For those of you in Seattle, you're voting in the August election to uphold (or not) a tax being levied against plastic shopping bags, or what's being called the Seattle Bag Tax. If you followed this link to an analysis, the conclusion is: "that the proposed Seattle program will be largely symbolic and will have little or no noticeable impact on environmental quality in the Seattle area." And here's another opinion.
Having talked to Tim Dunn, my stepfather, about plastics, it seems the direction we're going into is the use of biodegradable plastics…including grocery bags.
These fancy new plastics really aren't much more expensive, as they are simply produced using just a little bit of additional additive which causes the plastic material to break down. Certainly, the additive is less than 20 cents per bag!
If the referendum passes (or not), we should certainly reconsider the tax in light of these new plastic products. I'm not really sure how the city might encourage use of these products and discourage conventional plastics. Perhaps through tax breaks?
Seattle has composting for food waste service. Compatible to this, I would think, would be a city-wide plan to increase use of biodegradable materials. If everything food related you bought at a grocery store was sold as compostable, e.g. packaging and wrapping, wouldn't it be great if all you had to do was toss the entire mess into the food waste bin? Currently, we can recycle the paper, assuming it's not food stained. And sometimes the plastic, assuming it is the correct kind of plastic. And we have to clean the plastic, toss the wrapper, etc.
I work in an office that does have a food waste bin. It's obviously confusing to some people, as it's right next to the trash. Routinely people toss in straws and wrappers and things, by mistake I suppose. And then staring into the trash bin you see plenty of food waste and dirty paper and napkins in there as well. As I'm sure we're all fairly smart, conscientious people, but it's a problem of process.