Bans remove 350 million plastic bags from waste stream
By Ben Jacklet
Business Journal staff writer
Environment Oregon is estimating that citywide bans on plastic bags in Portland, Corvallis and Eugene will eliminate 350 million plastic bags per year from the waste stream.
Environment Oregon is estimating that citywide bans on plastic bags in Portland, Corvallis and Eugene will eliminate a whopping 350 million plastic bags per year from the waste stream.
Environment Oregon, a Portland-based advocacy group with 30,000 members, pushed for all three of the recently passed local bans, and is now working with state legislators to ban plastic bags in Oregon.
A statewide ban would remove 1.7 billion plastic bags from landfills and recycling facilities each year, according to the group’s calculations.
Portland passed its bag ban in October 2011 and is expanding it this year to cover all stores and eateries large and small, including farmers markets and food carts.
Corvallis and Eugene passed citywide bans in 2012 that also allowed stores to charge a nickel for each paper bag.
The latest version of the proposed statewide ban includes a five-cent charge for paper bags. The Northwest Grocery Association supports the measure, but the plastic industry lobbied hard against it in 2011, preventing the measure from coming up for a vote.
Environment Oregon executive director Sarah Higginbotham says her group is open to negotiating details, its main priority being to “keep plastic pollution out of the ocean.”
Because plastic does not break down organically over time, plastic waste in the ocean only grows over time. Higginbotham’s group estimates that there are 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre, and in some parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton six to one.
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