Proposal would outlaw plastic grocery bags, tax paper

Roger Harnack

Shoppers may not be using plastic to bag their groceries if a new bill passes the state Legislature next year.
And, under the same measure, shoppers could be taxed for paper bags if they don't bring a reusable bag with them.
A coalition of Western Washington lawmakers last week announced a bill they will introduce during the upcoming legislative session after the first of the year.
Under the proposal, it would be illegal for stores to offer single-use plastic bags for patrons to carryou out their purchases. Furthermore, the measure requires grocery stores to charge customers 10 cents for each paper bag they use.
Proponents say the charge on paper bags would cover the difference between cheaper plastic and more expensive paper bags.
But not all residents would be charged the paper bag fee, proponents said. Food stamp and welfare recipients would be exempt, under the measure.
Officials said the goal isn't to tax paper, but to force shoppers to bring reusable bags to grocery and other retail stores.
The ban would not affect produce and meat bags, which stores offer to keep some products from leaking other other items.
And stores' use of already-purchased plastic bags for checkout use would be grandfathered for a year, proponents said, noting that the measure allows stores to use up their inventory until 2010, but not order more.