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Plastic bag? 20 cents please…

October 16 2008 | Rise Above Plastics,
by Patrick

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/378828_bags12.html

$180,625 to fight 20-cent bag feeGroup wants issue on ballotLast updated September 11, 2008 10:02 p.m. PT

By KATHY MULADYP-I REPORTER

Paper or plastic or canvas bag has become a high-stakes question in Seattle.

The American Chemistry Council has reported spending $180,625 in August to fight a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags that was approved by the Seattle City Council in July.

Most of the money was likely used for signature gathering in an effort to put the issue on a future citywide ballot. The Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax has turned in about 22,000 signatures. That averages out to about $8 per signature. The King County Elections Office will verify the signatures before the initiative can move forward.

The American Chemistry Council is a trade group representing plastics manufacturers. It is based in Arlington, Va.

The group also has been lobbying aggressively against a 25-cent statewide bag fee proposal in the California Legislature.

Backers of the Seattle bag fee say it is needed to help protect the environment. It is set to go into effect in January but could be delayed if the question goes to voters.

The aim is to discourage the use of paper and plastic shopping bags by requiring grocery, drug and convenience stores to charge 20 cents per bag.

In a related action, the City Council also banned plastic foam food and drink containers. The rule also goes into effect Jan. 1.

People can avoid the fees by bringing their own reusable bags when they shop.

The city says it will launch an education effort to help people figure out the best ways to use cloth bags and remember to take them when they go shopping.

The city also plans to give residents a couple of free bags.

The 20-cent-per-bag "green fee" is expected to raise about $3.5 million each year.

Seattle Public Utilities needs about $500,000 to run the program.

The remainder will be used to offset expected increases in the city's solid-waste rates.

P-I reporter Kathy Mulady can be reached at 206-448-8029 or kathymulady@seattlepi.com.© 1998-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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