(Editor’s Note: The above attack ad was created by Hilex Poly, a plastic bag importer and manufacturer who has been at the forefront of the plastic bag debate. The ad is purposely misleading and demonstrates Hilex’s campaign of misinformation and deceit. It also demonstrates their increasing desperation and aggression. The tide has turned in the public’s popular will to ban the bag, and we’re winning. Conscious of this fact, Hilex’s tactics have become increasingly more cynical. Expect more of the same or worse.)
Seattle city council unanimously passed a ban on plastic bags on December 19th, 2012. We now join the ranks of other forward-thinking cities worldwide (Portland, Bellingham, DC, San Francisco, to name a few) who have banned single-use plastic bags. The ordinance, based on the Bellingham, WA, ordinance passed earlier this year, bans plastic bags at checkout in all retail stores, but allows for bag use in the meat and produce departments. It also requires grocers to charge five cents for the use of a paper bag at checkout; this fee is waived for people on food assistance programs.
This is a common sense ordinance, enacted for common sense reasons. We Seattle-ites take pride in our beautiful Puget Sound, in our clean, green parks, and in our progressive policies. This ban confirms all of those positive things about our city and our values, but it was passed for straightforward economic reasons. The city needs to reduce the waste we generate so we can save money processing that waste, and it needs to reduce the amount of garbage on our streets and on our beaches to cut the cost of cleaning it all up. To quote a Washington State legislative finding, it is: “necessary to change manufacturing and purchasing practices and waste generation behaviors to reduce the amount of waste that becomes a governmental responsibility”. That’s it in a nutshell. Those bags may seem like they’re free when a grocery clerk hands you one for your pack of gum, and they may seem like a real bargain when you re-use them (once) to contain your other trash or your dog’s business, but their actual cost to taxpayers is high. Like all other plastic products the responsibility for their ultimate disposal does not lie with the companies who produce them, it lies with you and me, regardless if we consume plastic bags or not, and in Seattle we would rather not pay to pick up Hilex Poly’s trash. And as of July, 2012 we won’t have to.
Abigail McCarthy/ Seattle Surfrider Chapter