and Styrofoam Ban
This ordinance would require grocery, drug and convenience stores to collect the fee for every disposable shopping bag provided to customers. Stores with annual gross sales of under $1,000,000 could keep all the fees they collected, to cover their costs. Other stores could keep 25% of the fees they collected, and would send the remainder to the City to support garbage reduction and recycling programs. The stores would get a business-tax deduction for the fees they collected.
Should this ordinance be:
8/19 Update: Bag fee rejected in Seattle- 58% to 42%. Read more...
Seattle City proposed legislation
from the Seattle City Council website
as of July 24, 2008
Proposal to Tax Disposable Shopping Bags
Proposal to Ban Styrofoam Containers
Seattle’s proposed plastic tax and polystyrene ban have some unique features: The tax proposal is the only one we have seen that includes paper bags. This is designed to avoid the simple switch to the much costlier paper substitute. (Paper bags cost almost 10 times as much to produce than do the disposable plastic bags). The lack of this feature certainly added to the concerns of legislators in Scotland who killed their version of a plastic bag tax. This feature, however, will steer us to polypropylene bags as substitutes. These may prove just as much, if not even more, environmentally problematic than the disposable grocery bags. Furthermore, all sorts of stores and plastic bags are exempt from the tax, potentially reducing its intended effectiveness.
The proposed polystyrene food container ban applies to all restaurants and institutional food services. In Portland, the ban does not apply to schools and institutions and is therefore a bit less strict.
Alternatives to Disposable Shopping Bags and Food Service Items
Prepared by Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc.
for Seattle Public Utilities
The “The Herrera Report” is the study, commissioned by the city, to look at the plastax and polystyrene ban issues. Herrera is a very reputable local engineering firm. The study however, appears to have been grossly under-funded at $50,000. A robust study like this could cost as much as $300,000 to do carefully. While it is doubtful that the numbers are very accurate, it is the only attempt at cost benefit analysis for the Seattle proposal. Pay especially close attention to the tables, as they contain the crux of the analysis including costs and environmental impacts.
Note that there are no Seattle litter studies. Something called a “litter” analysis for Seattle does exist, but what it actually analyzes is what Seattle Recycling found in public trash cans, not what they found littered throughout the city. We find this report’s omission of an honest look at the impact of plastic bag and polystyrene litter in Seattle to be a grave error. If the rest of the world littered as little as Seattleites do, the plastic bag litter problems we see elsewhere in the world likely would not exist.
Ordinance on the Disposable Bag Fee and Styrofoam (EPS) Ban
These are the two ordinances currently in question. They were passed on July 28, 2008 and were signed by the mayor on July 30, 2008. The ordinances were found on the City Clerk's Office website and accessed on August 14, 2008.
Ordinance No. 122752, Council Bill No. 116251
Ordinance No. 122751, Council Bill No. 116250
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