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    Grocers Seek Signatures to Overturn Seattle Fee on Bags

    The ordinance imposing the 20-cent fee will take effect this January.

    The Washington Food Industry, a trade organization for independent grocers in the state, began gathering signatures Aug. 8 for a referendum to overturn a recently passed Seattle bag fee ordinance, which will impose a 20-cent fee on disposable plastic or paper bags at grocery, drug, and convenience stores, according to a published account.

    The trade group has to collect 14,374 valid signatures by Aug. 28. The new ordinance takes effect Jan. 1, 2009, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported. If it gathers enough signatures, the referendum to overturn the ordinance would appear on the ballot in August 2009.

    "We're opposed to [the ordinance] because our customers don't need an additional expense on their grocery bill," said Washington Food Industry president Jan Gee.

    City officials maintain that law will reduce waste and conserve resources, and add that residents can avoid paying the fee by bringing their own reusable bags to stores.

    According to Gee, who notes that group members have already given away many reusable bags and favor a voluntary program that would give rebates to shoppers who bring in such receptacles, the Washington Food Industry formed the Stop the Seattle Bag Tax Coalition, which has launched a Web site, StopTheSeattleBagTax.com to bring further attention to the issue.

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