Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seattle voters weigh in on grocery bag fee

Voters in eco-conscious Seattle were deciding Tuesday whether to pay a 20-cent fee for every paper or plastic bag they get from supermarkets, drug stores and convenience stores.

City leaders had passed an ordinance to charge the bag fee, which was to start in January. But the plastics industry bankrolled a referendum to put the question to voters in Tuesday's election.

Plastic bag makers have lobbied hard to defeat the fee, outspending opponents about 15 to 1.

Supporters argue the fee would encourage more reusable bags, cut down on pollution and waste, and reduce greehouse gas emissions.

Several states from Colorado to Texas to Virginia debated bag bans or fees this year, but no statewide ban or fee has been enacted. Washington, D.C., passed a 5-cent fee on paper or plastic bags, and the Outer Banks region in North Carolina banned plastic bags this year. But New York City dropped a proposed 5-cent bag fee in June, and Philadelphia rejected a plastic bag ban.

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