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Despite city’s plastic bag ban, new plastic bags are being sold in some Seattle grocery stores

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Paper or plastic? Some shoppers in Seattle grocery stores have the choice once again.

That’s in spite of a citywide ban on plastic bags that went into effect July 1.

Some shoppers may have already seen them in their neighborhood grocery store, right next to the reusable cloth bags — a new kind of plastic bag.

A new option some shoppers don’t quite understand.

“This is the first that I’ve seen these, so I’m kind of a little shocked, but, yeah, if they’re not (going to) want us to have plastic bags, then I think they should be banned completely,” shopper Abigail Gilson said.

The new, heavier-gauge plastic bags are now offered when a lot of shoppers have grown accustomed to bringing their own reusable bag or just carrying groceries in their arms.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think they should be selling plastic bags if they banned them. I think they are bad for the environment and I think they should not offer them at all,” said shopper Ryan Frondozo.

“On average, every Seattleite was going through 500 plastic bags a year in Seattle,” said City Councilman Mike O’Brien.

That was one of the problems. Negative impact on the environment was another.

The plastic bag ban was the solution, but O’Brien, who sponsored the bag ban, says the new heavier-gauge plastic bags were always part of the ordinance, along with any other bag that could be reused.

He doesn’t think the new plastic bags will become a problem.

“Because people are charging for these and they’re 17 cents each, people have a big incentive to either reuse them time and time again or bring a different reusable bag or figure out another solution to keep going in and buying reusable bags and then throwing them out,” O’Brien said.

Still shoppers like Kate Sugaski believe the new bag defeats the purpose of the ban.

“I think it’s good not to have them at all, and people should bring their own,” Sugaski said.

O’Brien said if the city were to begin to see a problem with the new bags, such as customers constantly buying new ones instead of reusing them, or see them turning up, in a significant way, in landfills or in the Puget Sound, the council will create a new ordinance to address that problem.

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