As a way to discourage the waste spawned by hundreds of millions of plastic and paper bags, the Seattle Times reports today that city officials are proposing making stores charge customers 20 cents for each disposable bag. Customers would be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags instead.
Forget the canvas sacks at home? Shoppers at grocery, convenience and drug stores will pay the price starting Jan. 1, if the City Council approves. A family buying six bags of groceries a week would spend $62.40 a year in bag fees. The city will issue one free reusable shopping bag to each household.
As writer Sharon Pian Chan notes, the city's mayor, Greg Nickels, has banned the buying of bottled water by city departments and has proposed that all new taxis get at least 30 miles a gallon.
More details on the bag fee:
Store owners would keep 5 cents of the bag fee to cover costs. Smaller businesses that gross less than $1 million a year would keep the entire 20-cent fee. It would not apply to the smaller plastic bags such as those available in produce sections.
Seattle Public Utilities estimates the city would collect $10 million per year. About $2 million would go to provide and promote reusable bags. The rest would go toward waste prevention, recycling and environmental-education programs.