Proposal would cost Seattle shoppers 20 cents for a plastic bag

SEATTLE — Paper or plastic? Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and City Council President Richard Conlin say the answer is neither.

The two are proposing a 20-cent fee on disposable shopping bags at the city’s grocery, drug and convenience stores. Their plan also calls for a ban on foam take-home containers, plates and cups at restaurants.

Conlin and Nickels say paper and plastic bags and foam containers are all bad for the environment, and they hope charging a fee will encourage people to bring reusable bags when they shop.

The 20-cent fee per bag will be divvied up — 5 cents for the retailer, 15 cents for the city. But retailers grossing less than $1 million a year will keep the entire 20-cent fee.

Seattle Public Utilities estimates that 360 million disposable bags are handed out in the city every year — most of them plastic.

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