Environment
2:13 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Like plastic bags? Hate 'em? Let the Seattle Council know tonight

The Seattle City Council is considering a ban on thin single-use plastic bags at checkout stands. The ban will also include a pass-through fee of 5 cents for paper bags.

The council is holding a public hearing on the proposal tonight at 5:30

 

It's the city's second attempt to restrict the use of plastic bags to protect Puget Sound and reduce marine pollution that can harm wildlife.

In 2008, the council voted to charge a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags only to have the measure overturned by voters in a referendum bankrolled by the plastics industry.

Following is the city's press release on the proposal:

The ordinance is based on the recently adopted ordinance by the City of Bellingham.

“Our members were in strong support in Bellingham,” said Jody Kennedy, Policy Manager with the Surfrider Foundation. “We are seeing the same high level of support in Seattle and in Olympia for reducing single-use plastics. This effort is part of a growing global movement to address the enormous amount of plastic debris polluting our oceans.”

Environment Washington’s recent report on the impacts of plastic bags has generated attention on the immediate impacts in Puget Sound.

“We should ban plastic bags because something we use for a few minutes but then lasts in the environment for hundreds of years can easily be avoided,” said Katrina Rosin, Environment Washington's Field Director.

Heather Trim Policy Director for People For Puget Sound continued, “We now have evidence of what happens to plastic bags in the Sound. UW Tacoma researchers find tiny bits of plastic in all water samples they have taken in Puget Sound, including pieces of plastic bags.”

The American Chemistry Association and their affiliates argue that instead of a ban, the solution is recycling. Recycling alone will not protect our waters, however. In fact, Seattle’s recycling contractors--Allied Waste and Cedar Grove — both support this effort. The Northwest Grocery Association is also in support.

In addition to protecting water quality, there are other benefits to the bag ordinance such as cost savings and greenhouse gas emissions.

“We see zero waste as part of our overall effort to address climate change,” said Brady Montz of the Sierra Club. “Generating less waste in the first place, means less transport, less disposal, less greenhouse gases.”

This current bag effort is the culmination of four years of persistent outreach by the environmental community in Seattle, including a ramped up but quiet campaign over the past 11 months.

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