The city of Seattle in Washington State implemented a ban on plastic shopping bags on Sunday, July 1, 2012. To curb the 292 plastic bags used each year, with only 13 percent being recycled, the city council met in December 2011 and voted to approve the radical move three years after voters rejected the city's previous attempt to ban all plastic shopping bags.
Customers were seen leaving grocery stores with arms full of items like eggs, milk, and bread. But many stores offered free reusable bags to their customers to assist the transition. Most people received the news with a tempered attitude, realizing the amount of plastic that hurts the environment.
The new law requires retailers to charge 5 cents for every paper bag used for a customer's shopping items and some stores are charging 10 cents for heavier plastic bags which is a choice the city is allowing. Small paper bags can be offered for free and small plastic bags for produce, meat, or bulk items, are permitted.
Retailers will be subject to a $250 for failing to comply.
Other cities in Washington State, the US, and other nations around the world are instituting this new ban. Many stores already have friendly reminder signs in place, asking cutomers if they left their reusable shopping bags in their car. Although customers have their complaints such as the extra fee when they forget their reusable plastic bags, the effect on plastic throughout the environment will be staggering.
Some shoppers complained about the extra fee, the fact they consider it a tax, whie others had no concern about the effect of plastic on the environment. Some actually had complaints about lack of pastic bags to pick up after their pets when out on a walk.
The ban will take some time for people to adjust to, but it's a leap into reducing the stress on the environment that ultimately leads to tainted water resources, the air we breath, and other effects on out planet.
The City of Seattle Law Details: http://www.seattle.gov/util/Services/Rec
Report from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/us/sea