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Seattle's proposed plastic bag ban clears committee
Posted by Lynn Thompson
The Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee of the Seattle City Council Tuesday approved an amended plastic bag ban that will go to the full Council Monday for final action. If adopted, Seattle would become the fourth city in the state to ban plastic carry-out shopping and retail bags, following Edmonds, Bellingham and Mukilteo.
The Utilities Committee added a sunset provision that will eliminate the proposed 5-cent store fee on paper shopping bags after five years. Councilmember Mike O'Brien, chairman of the committee, said that by 2016 more cities will have adopted similar bans and more will be known about whether the fee is promoting reusable bags and whether it's working for stores.
Amendments also clarified that food banks are exempt from the ban and the 5-cent fee. O'Brien said food banks currently use mostly donated bags, plastic among them, and represent just a tiny amount of the estimated 292 million plastic bags used each year in Seattle.
The ban has the support of environmentalists who say plastic bags are a hazard to marine life and a big source of litter in and around Puget Sound. It also has the support of the biggest grocery store chains in the state, who say the 5-cent fee will help offset the higher cost of paper bags to the stores.
Opponents, including the plastics industry and some independent grocery stores, argue that plastic bags are convenient, reusable and represent only a fraction of the plastic debris that ends up in Puget Sound.
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