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Published on July 9th, 2008 | by ecolocalizer


Seattle’s Ban on Plastic and Styrofoam

Tuesday saw Seattle residents given the opportunity to voice their opinion on Mayor Greg Nickel’s proposal to ban Styrofoam containers, and impose a fee on plastic and paper bags at the checkout at supermarkets and local stores. And from what is slowly sliding out over the internets, the idea has been met with a warm reception.

The proposal was be enacted in a two stage process. Beginning in January of 2009, all foam products would be banned, but restraints and grocery stores would be allowed to switch to plastic products if they hadn’t found a biodegradable replacement. The second stage would go in to effect by 2010, at which time all plastics would be banned, leaving only biodegradables.

During the January and July period, a 20-cent per bag fee would be imposed in the checkout line at all grocery, convenience and drugstores.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer quoted Ravenna resident Liz Tatchell  as saying she thought it was “…a great step in the right direction,” and “It’s more than just the bags — it’s a lifestyle change.” They added that “nearly all of the dozens of Seattleites… supported the proposal.”

Naturally, there was some opposition from representatives of the grocery industry who want a flat fee rather than a per-bag charge. But on the whole, it looks like Seattle residents are ready and willing to make the change to a more environmentally friendly future.


credit: Zainub at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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23 Responses to Seattle’s Ban on Plastic and Styrofoam

  1. sao says:

    this is good, very good for green effort worldwide.

  2. Green Pal says:

    Stop Plastic Bags by Grabbing Free Reusable Bags from ReusableBagsGiveaway.com

    While searching for some green tips to replace my bathroom faucet, I came across this site: ReusableBagsGiveaway.com. I was skeptical at first that wondering what company will giveaway reusable bags. Well, when I landed on their site, I was immediately blown away by the free reusable bags that they’re giving away. Not only the bags are free, but the bags must be coming from the hands of designers, they’re stylish and chic. I quickly order my free reusable bags, the only cost to me is the shipping fee of $4.99, and the shipping fee actually covers up to 4 bags, so I pick 2 more bags of other styles and finished my checkout.

    A few days later, I received the package, and the reusable bags are so good that actually when I carry them to work, people are all asking me where did I get the bags.

    Afterall, it’s really eay to go green, stay stylish and cheap.

  3. It should be done nationally. Every place they have done it has had a dramatic reduction in plastic bags and waste. And the solution is simply keeping a few cheap reusable bags in the car.

  4. Paul Jackson says:

    This rocks!!! I wish we could do this here in Los Angeles. I always try to get out of the store with as few bags as possible, and it’s amazing how hard it is. They will ask you three times in a row if you’re really sure you don’t want a bag. Then they’ll walk away and somebody else will walk up and double-bag your stuff before you’re done paying the bill.

    I really don’t understand why they think you need to double bag a single-item purchase! I usually take it out and make a point of saying to them, “It’s already packaged in plastic. I don’t need another bag.”

  5. Paul Jackson says:

    Seattle ROCKS!!
    I wish I could get this to happen here in Los Angeles.
    Maybe starting a petition would do it?

  6. Billybob says:

    This is not the solution. The system punishes people who do reuse plastic bags as garbage bags for the kitchen, bathroom, other rooms, lunches (when they could leak), etc. We, the consumer already pay for the grocery bags. Doing this will not lower prices, but will force the people who reuse their grocery bags as garbage bags to buy them. Does that really solve the problem? If you ban plastic bags, ban the small garbage bags, this will force people to reuse their grocery bags. It will not add an extra cost to low income families to buy garbage bags that they didn’t before and it will not force them to buy reusable bags. Furthermore, you are subconsciously teaching them to reuse. I’m not saying that reusable bags are not good. We should use them and only take enough grocery bags to reuse. You are only shifting the problem if you ban grocery bags to more garbage bags being bought and used. Solve the problem properly, don’t shift it to somewhere else. Furthermore, look at the garbage problem properly, alot of homes have small garbage bins that they use bags for and then the city makes them put all their garbage in large garbage bags, to that it would be more efficient to pick up. Don’t you think that’s a problem?

  7. Danny says:

    It’s about time, I recently lived in Germany where non-reusable cheaper type plastic bags found in America aren’t even available. The grocers are afraid people will go to other grocery stores to avoid the fee but ban them everywhere and that isn’t an option.

  8. joe rowlands says:

    Bravo. Would be nice to see more of this.

  9. Jim Jones says:

    Go Seattle! Seattle like totqally ROCKS. I hope others will follow.


  10. Tim says:

    I wish they would do this in Portland. That way the grocery stores would make better bags and not double / triple bag everything. It’s such a waste of their own money. Spend 10 cents for one good bag or 7 cents each for three shitty bags.

  11. Courtney says:

    I live just south of Seattle, and I’ve gotta say, I hope this gets passed; I’m rooting for statewide, eventually. My household uses reusable bags (from Safeway and Fred Meyer’s)…and WOW they hold a lot. One bag holds 10 Sobe bottles, no problem. As for the usefulness of the plastic bags, I do agree, since I use them to take stuff to work, but honestly I still have a HUGE stack of plastic bags taking up space in the kitchen, since I used to get SO FREAKING MANY…

    That said, you guys might want to proof-read the article a bit…
    -“The proposal was be enacted…”
    -“…but restraints and grocery stores…”
    Sorry… I’m picky 🙂

  12. Rachel says:

    Actually, Billybob, less bags will be thrown away. That’s the main point. People are being forced to think about what they are throwing away. That’s why this is a good thing. You’re right that those who reuse bags for other things are going to have to buy bags now instead and that is inconvenient for them but really, the cost won’t be that much even for the poor and in the end there is the larger picture. Less bags will be used. Besides, most people do not reuse their bags and it is the bigger picture that is important here.

  13. Amanda says:

    I love this idea. Where I live there is limited access to recycling center, I wish something like this would be enforced here.

  14. Angela says:

    I don’t mind putting a fair share of responsibility on the consumer. But how come “they” still get to litter my mail box with unwanted coupon papers and other such advertising bullshit. I am sick of garbage mail! it’s far more waisteful yet the supermarkets and superstores get to cram it down our throats tax free.

  15. Sweets says:

    When we grocery shop I put all the groceries back in the cart. I then bag them up when I get to my truck, with the reusable bags I keep in there.I like this because the baggers at the stores don’t pack so well since they are used to just tossing two or three things in the plastic bags, which is why I would come home with 18 bags and now that I do it myself it is maybe 5. Less to carry in the house and less mess, plus my bags never break or rip.

  16. Bill L says:

    Wonderful idea .. Now we need 2 get the rest of the country going this way.. Sooner or later these folks are going to wake up!! Wen need to change many things.This is just one of them but its a super start!!
    My problem here is we are “PRECHEN 2 THE Quire” This stuff need s to get on sights where people who are unaware of this go, IE disseminate it world wide where everyone can look an make a decision .. The bag manufactured and big oil don’t want this ….. Screws up there plans…

  17. Pingback: Seattle Bag Ban Will Go To Ballot : EcoLocalizer

  18. will Engel says:

    We go to our local dump once a month, with mostly re cycling. But we notice what is brought there by others and we are sometimes shocked that they do not recycle. We even recycle buildings here come to see the fantastic new 12 x 12 x 12 shed we built for under $3000 with recycled materials http://www.splitzvillefarm.com or come and leave us a comment at http://howtogogreen.wordpress.com

    Thanks great site!

  19. Pingback: De-Plasticize Me: I’m Going Plastic Bagless « By Meg White

  20. Mark Ginbal says:

    I agree with adding a charge for plastic bags – but think it should go towards better recycling programs or cleaning up a dump. Re-usable bags are a great idea – inexpensive, and environmentally friendly.

    Styrofoam is over-used for food containers but unfortunately, there aren't many better alternatives. A few take-out places I've been to have switched to cardboard but for the majority, there is still tons being thrown out.

  21. Leanne says:

    How do we do this in Bellingham??

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  23. Scott James says:

    It’s sad, but styrofoam is still the least expensive packaging option on the market. Organic mushroom packaging is gaining some ground, but it’s currently nowhere near as affordable.

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