Portland expands plastic bag ban over industry objections

Portland’s ban on plastic bags expands today to include retailers and food providers larger than 10,000 square feet.

Portland’s ban on plastic bags expanded to large retailers Friday in defiance of strong objections from the plastics industry.

The ban has applied to large grocers since 2011 and is expanding today to include retailers and food providers larger than 10,000 square feet.

In October the bag ban will expand further to cover all eateries and retail stores regardless of size, including farmer’s markets and food carts.

The measure has been widely applauded by Portland environmental groups and has earned the support of the Northwest Grocery Association.

Environmental groups are strategizing to expand the program to all of Oregon, arguing that a state law could remove a whopping 1.7 billion plastic bags from the waste stream each year.

The plastics industry lobbied to block a statewide ban in 2011, and marked today’s expansion of the Portland ban by releasing a statement indicating that its opposition will not weaken.

The statement attributes the following quote to Mark Daniels, Chair of the American Progressive Bag Alliance:

“Bans like this push consumers to less sustainable alternatives that actually prove to be harmful to the environment. Plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable – they are more resource efficient, require less energy to produce and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their alternatives.

“Cities and states have the opportunity to lead the nation by promoting sustainable recycling programs rather than targeting the use of a single item. Bans only serve to burden retailers and shoppers, and fail to effectively address the litter issue.”

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