Patrick Robinson
WHERE PLASTIC IS ALLOWED. A shopper leaves Safeway on the unincorporated King County side of S.W. Roxbury St. with a plastic bag. Grocers and retailers on the Seattle side had to drop plastic bags after a ban took effect in July, 2012.

Majority favor plastic bag ban, survey finds

It’s been almost seven months since Seattle imposed a plastic bag ban requiring retailers and grocers to stop offering single-use plastic bags at checkout, and feedback from a 2012 survey shows a majority of shoppers and retail employees approve the change.

In October, Environment Washington – an environmental advocacy group – surveyed 891 consumers at nine different supermarkets across the city, including the QFC at Capco Plaza on 42nd Ave S.W. in West Seattle.

Here are the highlights from that survey:

- 94 percent of consumers are aware of the ban.

- 64 percent of consumers agree with the ban. More women than men agreed with the ban, more white people than people of color agreed, and more people in the 21-40 age bracket like the ban compared to those from 41-60.

- 54 percent said the ban “has prompted them to bring their own bag more often.”

- 60 percent of people of color said the ban has prompted more reusable bag usage, with 51 percent of white people reporting the same (it was unclear if consumers already using reusable bags prior to the ban were taken into account. We've reached out for clarification).

- 66 percent of consumers reported they bring their own bag most of the time or all the time. 20 percent said they usually forget, and 14 percent said they never bring their own.

- Researchers observed 50 percent of consumers using a reusable bag during their time at area grocers, and 35 percent using no bag at all.

The business perspective
Environment Washington also surveyed 18 supermarket employees and 31 small business owners over the phone to get reactions from the other side of the checkout counter. Here are the results:

- 61 percent of employees agreed with the ban (78 percent of supermarket employees and 52 percent of small businesses)

- 72 percent of employees have seen the number of reusable bags increase (94 percent at supermarkets compared to 47 percent at small businesses)

It appears small businesses are the one exception to majority approval in the survey. As one anonymous video store owner was quoted in the survey presentation, "Paper bags are harder to pack and less durable than plastic."

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.