Form revised: July 12, 2011







Contact Person/Phone:

CBO Analyst/Phone:


Meg Moorehead         684-8929



Legislation Title:

AN ORDINANCE relating to the City of Seattle’s solid waste system, regulating the distribution of single-use plastic and biodegradable carryout bags and requiring retail establishments to collect a five cent pass-through charge from customers requesting recyclable paper carryout bags, and amending Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 21.36.


Summary of the Legislation:

The ordinance will ban the use of single-use plastic carryout (shopping) bags and “biodegradable” carryout bags, and require retail establishments to collect a pass-through charge of at least five cents for each single-use recyclable paper carryout bag provided to customers, with exceptions for those receiving food assistance under state or federal programs.  The ordinance also allows the Director of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) to provide reusable bags for promotion and to assist low-income households and the food banks that serve them.




The purpose of the ordinance is waste and litter prevention through reduced shopper use of single-use carryout bags at all types of stores. This will be accomplished through a ban on single-use plastic and biodegradable carryout bags because of their impact on litter and, particularly, marine litter, and requirement that a 5 cent per bag pass-through charge be made for all recyclable paper carryout bags provided by any retail establishment. This will somewhat suppress the use of recyclable paper bags in favor of reusable bags which the SPU director is authorized to promote in connection with implementation of the ordinance. In addition, because the ordinance also requires that recyclable paper carryout bags have a specified post-consumer recycled paper content, there will be a small reduction in the use of virgin wood fiber in paper bag production.


Please check one of the following:


__X__ This legislation does not have any financial implications.


No additional City appropriations or revenues are anticipated from this ordinance.