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Plastic Bag Ban
The "Bellingham Model"
Seattle's plastic bag ban has been in effect since July 1, 2012.
Information for retailers is on the Seattle Public Utilities website.
What's the Problem?
Washingtonians use more than 2 billion single-use plastic bags each year. Seattle alone uses approximately 292 million plastic bags annually and only 13% are recycled. Too many plastic bags end up in Puget Sound where they do not biodegrade. Plastic bags break down into smaller and smaller pieces that remain hazardous as they are consumed by filter-feeders, shellfish, fish, turtles, marine mammals, and birds. PCB levels in Chinook salmon from Puget Sound are 3- to 5-times higher than any other West Coast populations. In 2010, a beached gray whale was found to have 20 plastic bags in its stomach!
How does the plastic bag ban work?
What about paper?
Joining cities on the West Coast and around the world
Background in Seattle
Approximately 292 million disposable bags are used in the City of Seattle annually. In 2008, the City Council passed an ordinance that would have placed a 20 cent fee on disposable plastic and paper bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores in an effort to reduce waste. The ordinance passed the Council in a 6-1 vote and then opposing parties collected enough signatures to refer the ordinance to the ballot, where it was over-turned by the voters (53%-47%) in the November 2009 primary election. The American Chemistry Council spent over $1.4 million opposing the law during the ballot measure campaign. The Seattle City Council returned with a new proposal in 2011 – a ban on plastic bags and five cents for paper bags. This plan was adopted via Ordinance 123775 in December 2011 and went into effect July 1, 2012.
Retailers and residents with questions about implementation of the bag ban in Seattle, should visit the Seattle Public Utilities website. If you have additional questions, contact Dick Lilly at Seattle Public Utilities: Dick.Lilly@seattle.gov.
Policymakers and advocates in other jurisdictions who have questions about the development of Seattle's law should contact Esther Handy in Councilmember Mike O'Brien's Office: Esther.Handy@seattle.gov, 206-684-8800.
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