Since the Seattle City Council approved the proposed 20-cent fee on disposable shopping bags in July, the effort to overturn it has grown loud, strong and relatively well-funded, thanks mainly to contributions from the American Chemistry Council, the lobbying arm of the plastics industry. Signature gatherers, who were paid by the "Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax," collected enough signatures from Seattle voters to send the proposed fee to the ballot in 2009, when voters will make the final call.
On Friday, Worldchanging ally Erica C. Barnett wrote on the SLOG about the seemingly inevitable defeat of the fee:
That's a victory for the chemical industry and a relatively small loss for the environment, but a huge defeat for the idea that small steps will help—help— lead the way to a safer, less toxic world for everyone.
It does seem that the chemical industry stands to lose heavily if the bag fee succeeds. According to this article in the P-I, officials from 19 other U.S. cities had contacted City Council President Richard Conlin's office as of August 25, asking for details about the proposed fee and the research behind it. It seems that many cities are looking to Seattle to see if the fee -- an effort to reduce the environmental harm that disposable bag waste creates -- would be a successful policy.
The world is catching on to the gravity of the environmental crisis, and we believe that eventually, disposable plastic bags and other needless wastes will be a thing of the past. Whether Seattle chooses to lead now, or to pass that torch to another city more willing to stand up to industry lobbyists, remains to be seen.
Photo credit: flickr/Sekihan, Creative Commons license.