A client of mine that owns reusablebags.com recently was contacted by the Mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels, who requested my client’s support with Seattle’s proposed Plastic Bag Fee. Residents of the city of Seattle vote on August 18 whether to implement a twenty cent tax on plastic bags distributed by merchants such as grocers and convenience stores. Many of the grocers and big drugstores already participate in a voluntary education program encouraging consumers to use reusable bags.
Seattle’s proposed tax is modeled after Ireland’s successful tax (affectionately known as a Plastax), which has been in place since March, 2002. Ireland implemented a 33 cent tax per plastic bag, which is paid by consumers at the time of purchase. This charge for plastic bags all but eliminated these harmful devils from the country (and the countryside where they’re often found blowing about in the wind).
Although nay-sayers claim that the bag tax will have a disparate negative impact on people of low income, there are several groups in the Seattle area working to ensure that such folks do get reusable bags to use. In fact, an alliance of merchants, together with the city, just donated 50,000 bags to Northwest Harvest (a supplier of Seattle’s food banks) for distribution to the people it helps.
Ultimately, as long as folks who need reusable bags can get them, I think that the Seattle Bag Fee makes perfect sense and hope to see something similar implemented in and around Lake Tahoe soon.
UPDATE: Seattlites voted down the bag tax and ban on plastic bags http://seattlebagtax.org/