Thursday, August 28, 2008

Plastic oh no ban, industry says

Don't celebrate the Seattle 20¢ plastic bag fee/styrofoam ban just yet, canvassers are gathering signatures on a petition that would put a bag fee repeal on the November ballot.

Who could possibly want a repeal of the fee? Why, the plastics industry. Of course, they call it a tax:

"This tax was opposed by a broad spectrum of citizens and stakeholders as unnecessary and placing an unfair financial burden on Seattle's working families," coalition spokesman George Griffin said. He said the group plans to turn in additional signatures later in the week. Local environmental groups were stunned by the army of signature gatherers planted in the front of Seattle grocery stores, a preview of the powerful industry behind the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag. The American Chemistry Council, the lobbying arm of the plastics industry, has funded most of the coalition's costs -- including signature gatherers and a Web site -- said Griffin, a public relations consultant contracted by Arlington-based council. "I thought this was going to be a local waste-reduction effort, and it turns out that we are going head-to-head with these monsters of industry, these guys are crippling our efforts to clean up our environment," said Ellie Rose, a member of the Seattle group Bring Your Own Bag. Source

And they're also trying to muddy the issue.
Some Seattle shoppers are already feeling confused by the tug of war. Cindy Todo, a West Seattle grocery shopper, takes her own bags to the store. She said she signed the petition after being told it was to outlaw plastic bags. Later, another signature gatherer told her the petition was to put the issue on the ballot. "Now I am almost totally confused about what is going on," she said.

. . .

Cities around the country are watching Seattle to see what happens next.

Brady Montz, chairman of the Sierra Club's Seattle group, said they are ready to wade into the battle.

"For the Sierra Club, this is an important issue this year. Next year, it will be a very important issue," Montz said.

"These laws happened because there was this huge, amazing grass-roots support for it," he said. "Having the American Chemistry Council come in and try to buy their way out of it is distressing. The only interest of the plastic company is to see how many plastic bags they can sell at the stores."

One blogger notes one piece of disinformation, which claims the ban will actually benefit the plastics industry.

We'll know in the next couple of days whether this pro-pollution referendum will get on the ballot. Although even if it does, I'm not especially worried; the presidential race is at the top of the ballot, and the last time Seattle voted for Kerry at about 70%.

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