Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paper or plastic? Seattle voters reject 20-cent Tax on both types of grocery bag

Seattle saw the headlines back in April and now they have voted.

Their vote firmly rejected Referendum 1, which would have made Seattle the first city in the nation to tax both plastic and paper shopping bags.
The defeat — 58 percent to 42 percent, with more than half of the expected votes counted — means an ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council last year will not take effect.

Had the tax passed, grocers, convenience marts and drugstores would have charged shoppers 20 cents for each bag they were provided at checkout counters.

Adam Parmer, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax, said the results show the bag fee was "a costly, unnecessary tax" and the wrong approach to changing behavior.
"Seattle voters have made it clear that this is not the approach they want to take in protecting the environment," he said.
Observers predicted that a failure for the bag fee in an eco-conscious city like Seattle, such proposals would be an even tougher sell elsewhere.

In California, bag manufacturers successfully sued cities that banned plastic bags.
Several states including Colorado, Texas and Virginia debated bag bans or tax 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.