Over the past few weeks, more than 6,900 Care2 members signed a petition urging Seattle to pass a law banning the use of plastic shopping bags, which account for a vast amount of metropolitan litter and take hundreds of years to degrade.
And all those signatures finally paid off.
On Monday, the City Council of Seattle became the latest U.S. city to approve a ban on single use plastic shopping bags. The unanimous vote approved an ordinance that bans plastic bags at retail checkout stands and requires retail establishments to collect a pass-through charge from customers requesting paper carryout bags.
“Under the new ordinance, retail establishments are prohibited from providing single-use plastic carryout bags, and are required to collect a pass-through charge of not less than five-cents for each recyclable paper carryout bag provided to customers,” said Council President Richard Conlin. ”There are exemptions for people receiving food assistance and for food banks. Smaller bags and bags used inside the stores to package bulk items are exempt.”
Those who may be disappointed to hear that forgetting their reusable bags could add to their grocery bill should remember that while they may be complimentary, paper and plastic bags have never really been free.
“The cost of those bags are included in every item that a customer purchases. Reusable bags are readily available as a substitute for disposable bags, and a ban on plastic bags and a modest charge for paper bags (which goes to the store, not the City) will fairly allocate costs and environmental responsibilities” said Conlin. “This simple and effective step towards waste reduction will make a difference to marine life and to Seattle’s solid waste disposal costs. It is a win-win for consumers, stores, and the environment.”
This is the second time Seattle has passed an ordinance encouraging the use of reusable bags. Unfortunately, the complexity of the ordinance made it easy for the plastics industry to pick it apart, and they spent $1.4 million collecting signatures on a referendum and successfully campaigning to get the ordinance repealed.
Thanks to all the Care2 members who helped Seattle make it a success the second time around!
Image Credit: Flickr – velkr0