About a year ago, the Seattle City Council voted yes to a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags, but the fee was never imposed after the American Chemistry Council, whose members include Dow Chemical and Exxon, began to gather enough petition signatures to put the fee on the August primary ballot. The vote is Aug 18. If you lived in Seattle, how would you vote?Referendum 1â€¨
Seattle must decide if shoppers must pay 20 cents for each disposable plastic or paper bag they get, but small businesses with under $1 million in annual revenue would get to keep the entire 20-cent fee. Bigger businesses would hold onto five cents, with the balance going to Seattle Public Utilities.
Grist writer Claire Thompson does an excellent job breaking down those behind the fee:
The pro-bag-fee side has raised around $64,000 so far—a tiny fraction of the million-plus dollars raised by the "no" side. The main organization supporting the measure is the Seattle Green Bag Campaign. Notable endorsements have come from The Stranger, Mayor Greg Nickels, five Seattle City Council members, the 43rd and 46th District Democrats, PCC Natural Markets, Central Co-op's Madison Market, and a host of environmental groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, People for Puget Sound, and the UW Sierra Student Coalition.Â The campaign has also received support from Orin Smith, former president and CEO of Starbucks, and Reusablebags.com.
The opposition is lead by the Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax, but the lion share of the "no" funding comes from the American Chemistry Council. Naturally, opponents are referring to the fee as a "tax", but the revenues raised would go directly to a program to provide reusable bags to disadvantaged and low-income people, and not into the city's general fund.
How would you vote?â€¨
Both San Francisco and LA have decided to ban plastic bags, but the measures weren't decided by popular vote. Plastic bags are a nice convenience when you don't have your reusable bag with you. I use them to clean up after my dog and as a sort of tupperware, wrapping up my dinner leftovers. But I mostly use corn-based bags for my dog's droppings, which biodegrade cleanly and aren't made from oil. I'd like to live in Seattle some day, and when I get there I'd like to not find plastic bags. I would vote yes. How about you?