A true testament to what a great place Portland has become. Hopefully we can follow suit!
The decisionThe Portland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Thursday that prohibits plastic shopping bags at checkstands of major grocers and certain big-box stores. The new rules, designed to curb pollution, take effect Oct. 15. Fulfilling a pledge from last year, Mayor Sam Adams introduced the ban this month after the 2011 Legislature declined to enact Oregon-wide restrictions.
The ban targets supermarkets with $2 million or more in gross annual sales plus stores with pharmacies and at least 10,000 square feet of space, such as Target and Walmart. Adams considers those types of retailers the biggest source of disposable plastic bags in the city. Several chains that fall under the new rules, such as Fred Meyer and New Seasons, already don't use plastic checkout bags in Portland.
The catchThere still will be plenty of discarded plastic bags floating around Portland. The ban exempts plastic bags used for produce, meat and bulk food at grocery stores. Pharmacists dispensing medicine may use plastic bags to protect a customer's privacy. Also untouched by the new rules is the Portland Farmers Market, which prohibits the sale of plastic water bottles but will continue allowing vendors to use plastic bags.
The falloutUnlike the failed statewide measure, Portland's ban won't impose a mandatory fee on paper checkout bags, though retailers have that option. That means there's less incentive for customers to switch to reusable bags, one of the goals of the ordinance. "Without the fee, there is a risk people simply substitute paper for plastic, and the environmental benefits of that are negligible," said state Rep. Ben Cannon, D-Portland, one of the sponsors of the state bill.
-- Beth Slovic