(Edited from press release) —New Seattle plastic shopping bag ban takes effect on July 1.

(Edited from press release) —New Seattle plastic shopping bag ban takes effect on July 1.

 

The new ordinance, which was unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council last December, prohibits all Seattle retail stores from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout shopping bags, including those advertised as compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or similar.

The goal of Seattle’s ordinance is to reduce waste — particularly, plastic litter. Plastic never disappears. It can harm animals and affect the food chain, especially in waterways and oceans.

“From our conversations with local retailers, and from what we have seen in other Washington cities that have adopted bans on throwaway plastic carryout bags, we are expecting a smooth transition when the new law takes effect here, July 1,” said SPU program manager Dick Lilly.

“Most major stores, particularly grocery and drug stores where about 70 percent of plastic bags originate are already selling moderately-priced reusable bags to help their customers. Some stores are planning to give their customers free bags during the first couple days of the plastic bag ban,” Lilly said.

The following are the key elements of the Seattle ordinance.

• Single-use plastic merchandise carryout bags are banned. This includes plastic-like bags claimed to be compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or similar.
• Customers must be charged 5 cents per large paper bag. (Typically equivalent to large grocery bags — 882 cubic inches — with flat bottoms greater than 60 square inches.)
• Large paper bags requiring the 5 cent charge must be a minimum of 40 percent postconsumer recycled fiber and the fiber content must be marked on the outside.
• The 5 cent bag sale is taxable and must be shown on sales receipts. Retailers retain the revenue. Smaller bags may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.
• Thick plastic bags — 2.25 mil or greater — are deemed reusable and may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.

More information including illustrated program-summary flyers in multiple languages and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) is available on the city’s website at
seattle.gov/plasticbagban.

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