The Seattle City Council voted Monday to ban single-use plastic bags from groceries and other retail stores, joining a growing trend among cities that embrace green values.
The ordinance, which was approved unanimously following months of discussion and debate, takes effect in July 2012. It includes a provision to charge a nickel fee for the use of paper bags, to encourage people to bring their own bags when they go shopping.
The paper bag fee is not unique. In Washington, D.C., businesses that sell food or alcohol must charge 5 cents for each carryout paper or plastic disposable bag.
The ban is expected to reduce pollution, free up landfill space and improve the environment. Seattle’s residents use 292 million plastic bags and 68 million paper bags a year. About 82 percent of paper bags are recycled, while only 13 percent of plastic bags are recycled.