Oregon lawmakers in 2011 may ban plastic bags
Back to Main MenuBusiness News HomeFront PorchIt Only MoneyOregon the EconomyPlaybooks ProfitsSilicon ForestWindow ShopStock Market ReportBusiness Public BlogBack to Main MenuVideos from the OregonianVideos from The Beaverton LeaderVideos from the Hillsboro ArgusVideos from The Forest Grove LeaderYour VideosRoss William Hamilton/The OregonianAn Oregon state senator is proposing a ban on plastic bags at grocery checkout counter, but environmental regulators and a California judge say the environmental benefits of paper vs. plastic are dubious at best. Photos by Ross Wi adidas samba lliam Hamilton/The OregonianState lawmakers have quietly forged a deal to outlaw disposable plastic bags throughout Oregon starting in 2012.Proposed legislation calls for all retailers, ranging from Nordstrom to Fred Meyer, to prohibit plastic bags at checkout and to charge 5 cents for every paper bag. Retailers would keep the money.The legislation, which may not clear the 2011 session, has the backing of a quartet of urban and rural legislators led by state Sen. Mark Hass, D Beaverton, and Sen. Jason Atkinson, R Central Point. The two introduced a bill to ban plastic bags during February’s special session, knowing it probably would not clear 90 lawmakers in such a short period.”The theory is this should be a statewide solution as opposed to a crazy quilt of Portland, Corvallis and Tigard doing different things,” said Hass, who received a draft of the proposed legislation Friday.In Portland, Mayor Sam Adams has been working on a plan to reduce disposable bag use for three years. In 2008, as a city commissioner, he floated the idea of charging a fee on plastic bags but dropped it last year, citing the recession. Members of a “Ban the Bag” coalition plan to hold a rally at City Hall on Wednesday to pressure city leaders to take another run at the issue.California: Could be the first state to ban plastic bags if Assembly Bill 1998 clears the state Senate. The bill also requires retailers to charge at least a nickel per paper bag. Applies to chain supermarkets and pharmacies in 2012; extends to convenience stores, liquor stores and smaller shops in July 2013.San Francisco: Banned plastic bags in large chain stores in 2007. Other California cities to ban the bags include M adidas samba alibu, Palo Alto and Fairfax.North Carolina: Extended a ban affecting only large chain stores to all plastic bags in the Outer Banks.Seattle: Imposed a 20 cent grocery bag fee in 2008. Opponents put the issue to voters, who thumped it in August 2009.Furniture retailer Ikea: Banned disposable bags in October 2008, offering only reusable bags for 59 cents at checkout.Hass and Atkinson, meanwhile, may have public opinion on their side. The California State Assembly is considering what would be the first statewide ban on plastic bags. cities have adopted prohibitions, following San Francisco’s lead in 2007.Foes say the thin plastic bags clog drains, and wind up in landfills and waterways, where they harm marine life. About 100 billion petroleum based plastic bags are used each year in the United States, according to environmental groups.Opponents, most notably the American Chemistry Council, which represents 80 percent of the country’s plastic bag production, say plastic bags can be kept out of the waste stream if consumers take time to return them to stores for recycling.”Over the last couple of years, you’ve seen an uptick in adidas samba people using reusable bags, but at the same time, we’ve seen an uptick in the amount of (plastic) material being recycled,” said Tim Shestek, the council’s director of state affairs. “Both can happen.”Stephen Joseph, counsel to the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, based in San Francisco, essentially says bag haters are full of hot air. He says arguments adidas samba that plastic clogs oceans or kills animals are simply not true. His group has successfully challenged several California cities in court, keeping them from adopting broad bans.”If litter is the reason for banning something, you have to ban everything that’s in the litter stream, starting with cigarette butts,” he said.In Portland, the local chapter of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation plans to rally at City Hall to urge city commissioners to lead the way on disposable bags.”Our interest is seeing the city of Portland move forward first,” said Pete Stauffer of Surfrider. “We hope the state is going to take this on in the next session, but we think there is a good opportunity for the city to move forward on this.”Adams declined to talk about the issue Monday, saying he didn’t know what he would propose yet. He met with some city commissioners Monday, according to their public calendars, as well as with Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association.