Paper or Plastic? Seattle Mayor says, “Neither.”

April 3, 2008

Following Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels’ recent ban on city-funded bottled water comes a new eco-policy: an initiative that will ding customers 20 cents for every paper or plastic bag used at all grocery, convenience, and drug stores Seattle-wide. If the fee is approved by the City Council, it will take effect January 1, 2009. In a chivalrous move, the city plans to distribute one free reusable bag to every Seattle household pre-fee, and has designs on handing over the whole fee to smaller biz folks who gross less than $1 million annually; larger retailers would see a quarter of each 20-cent fee. The remaining 3/4 of the moola — to the tune of an estimated $10 million per year collected by Seattle Public Utilities — will go toward funding the purchase of reusable bags and to increase and promote recycling and waste-reduction programs.

But that’s not all. The Mayor and his team have set their sights on forbidding plastic-foam food containers and cups at food-service businesses, also starting Jan. 1. After that, non-recyclable plastic food containers and utensils in 2010. All of these measures, of course, are part and parcel to the city’s “zero-waste” goal.

Though this fee seems to point in the right direction, environmentally speaking, it may not be all it’s cracked up to be, in terms of saving the planet. The Daily Score’s Eric de Place takes a look at the eco-impact of plastic pouches vs. the impact of meat-based and vegetarian diets, determining that “it’s just worth remembering that by the time you get to the check-out line, you’ve already made the more important choices.” Here’s the graph:


Eh? Every little bit helps, doesn’t it? Or am I crazy?


3 Responses to “Paper or Plastic? Seattle Mayor says, “Neither.””

  1. […] 9, 2008 Apropos of my recent post on Seattle’s proposed plastic- and paper-bag fee: A piece by Danny Westneat, a personal fave columnist for one of my local papers, on Curt […]

  2. […] mean goin’ green by banning city-funded bottled water. His latest push is adding a 20-cent tax to every plastic or paper bag issued at grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores in Seattle. Needless to say, I have […]

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