UPDATE: Seattle Plastic-Bag Ban

Could kick in as soon as July

SEATTLE -- Come July, plastic bags will likely become a thing of the past in Seattle.

This week, the City Council passed a measure banning the bags. And not just in grocery stores, as some cities have done. Seattle's ban extends to department stores, convenience stores, home improvement stores and more, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

The council said stores could offer paper bags instead, but only if the customer pays a 5-cent fee for each bag. The measure exempts customers on food assistance.

If the mayor signs the measure, it would go into effect in July.

Seattle likely will be a case study for years to come. The city initially imposed a 20-cent fee on plastic bags. That was in 2008. But the plastic-bag industry fought vigorously, spending $1.4 million on its campaign, according to an article in the online newspaper, seattlepi.com. In 2009, the measure was repealed via a voter referendum.

So now the all-out ban.

The bag industry says Seattle has missed "the opportunity to lead the way toward the meaningful reduction of litter through increased statewide recycling efforts." Recycling being the avenue of choice for the industry.

Seattle residents use about 292 million plastic bags a year, according to seattlepi.

Seattle councilman Mike O'Brien, the main sponsor of the measure, said that the goal was to get more people to opt for reusable bags.

"I think we've gotten to a place where it's really going to work for the environment, businesses and the community in general," he said.