Danny Westneat kinda-sorta supports the city’s efforts to limit the use of plastic grocery bags…
It’s well-meaning. We chuck too much plastic.
… but Danny chafes at what’s necessary to enforce a new ordinance…
Don’t you think do-gooder Seattle could reduce its bag usage without inspectors? Tax auditors? A small, but new, layer of bureaucracy?
I dunno… maybe. I suppose national supermarket giants Kroger, Safeway and Albertsons, along with other chains and hundreds of local retailers might come to the table and work out a viable voluntary plan with the city, and I guess that might be preferable to mandating a 20-cent bag fee. But they haven’t yet, and citing Danny’s Australian example, I don’t see what incentive they would have to do so in the absence of the city threatening to act unilaterally:
There the government and the grocery association hatched a deal to get rid of plastic bags — voluntarily. According to a report for Seattle by Herrera Consultants, 90 percent of big Aussie retailers signed up — in part because if they didn’t, the government threatened a more top-down program. Much like the one we’re about to do here.
Could there be better alternatives to addressing the problem, and would the mayor and the council consider them? Sure. But as of now the industry has yet to step forward, preferring instead to relentlessly complain about the economic impact and consumer inconvenience, while hoping the bag fee proposal ultimately collapses under its own weight.
See, that’s the catch with the kind of voluntary program that Danny prefers: it requires volunteers. So if we want to solve this problem and avoid the expense and inconvenience of a bag fee, it’s time for all those do-gooders in Seattle’s grocery industry to step up and offer a viable plan of their own.