Seattle Bans Styrofoam and Plastic, Places Fee On Bags

On Monday, the City Council of Seattle voted to ban foam and plastic, starting in January, at businesses serving food.

The ban will take place in two stages. In January, polystyrene and Styrofoam containers, such as take-out boxes at restaurants, will be banned at food-service businesses. In July 2010, the ban will expand to include plastic utensils and plastic food containers. Business will have to switch to compostable or recyclable alternatives.

The Council also approved a 20-cent fee to be charged for disposable paper and plastic bags starting in January.

The fee, proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels and approved by the City Council, will applly to bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores.

Large grocery stores will keep a nickel per disposable bag to administer the new fee. Small stores that gross less than $1 million a year will be allowed to keep all 20 cents.

The city expects the fee will generate $3.5 million, which it said will be used by Seattle Public Utilities for administrative costs and other recycling programs.

The fee is one of many steps the city is taking to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills. In Ireland, a similar program reduced plastic-bag use by 90%, Seattle officials said.

The city plans to give at least one free, reusable bag to each household, and the Council directed Seattle Public Utilities to propose a plan by the end of November to provide extra bags to low-income residents.

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