Seattle – the latest city to ban plastic bags

Seattle joins the ranks of cities banning plastic bag use (photo by Sascha W., flickr)

On December 19th, the City Council in Seattle passed an ordinance banning single use plastic bags.

Backed by the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents the state’s largest supermarkets, including Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertsons, the new law will take effect on July 1st.  Included in the measure is a five-cent tax on paper grocery bags which the city hopes will make up for the higher cost of paper and serve as a reminder to consumers to bring their reusable bags with them.

Plastic bags are more than simply something that winds up in landfills. They kill plenty of marine and wildlife as well. A gray whale that washed up on shore in West Seattle last year had more than 20 plastic bags in its stomach.

Plastic bags found inside a dead whale's stomach

“It´s huge to see Seattle being a leader to protect Puget Sound wildlife,” said Katrina Rosen, field director for Environment Washington.

According ton city councilman Mike O’Brien, the city will continue to allow paper grocery bag use due to having one of the highest paper bag recycling rates in the nation (about 85 percent). To date, it recycles only about 13 percent of the 292 million plastic bags distributed in the city.

Rosen told The Times that Olympia, Port Townsend, Bainbridge Island and Lake Forest also are considering bans.

Looks like Washington state is making real progress. So who’s next to ban the plastic bag scourge? Step right up!

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