Seattle Joins Cities Banning Plastic Bags

WhalesSeattle, Washington joins a growing list of cities that have banned use of carryout plastic bags by retailers. On December 19, 2011 the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that effective July 1, 2012 prohibits any retail establishment from providing single use carryout plastic bags to customers. Stores will also be required to collect a 5 cents "pass through" charge for every recyclable paper bag provided to customers.  For Seattleites, it’s time to start using reusable carryout bags. In fact, under the ordinance, the director of Seattle Public Utilities is authorized to give away or charge very little for reusable carryout bags.

A violation would be a civil infraction.

Council member Mike O’Brien was the ordinance’s prime sponsor.

Seattle residents use 292 million plastic bags a year. Only 13 percent of plastic bags are recycled. Portland, Oregon; San Jose and Los Angeles County along with several smaller cities such as Edmonds, Mukilteo and Bellingham, all in Washington, have also banned plastic bags. Washington, D.C. retailers collect a pass through charge for every plastic and paper bag provided to customers for carryout.

The bags are a real danger to wildlife; birds and other marine animals become entangled in the bags and can choke or swallow them. A gray whale was found dead on a Seattle beach in 2010 with several plastic bags in the animal’s stomach.