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Portland and Oregon: bans on single-use plastic bags in the works

Bags are back to being a hot topic in the city of Portland and state of Oregon. But we want them gone! Get outta here, you pollutin' single-use plastic sacks! Both governments are suddenly hard at work on banning flimsy single-use plastic bags.

I had the opportunity to serve on a mayoral task force last summer when Mayor Sam Adams sought input from various groups on promoting reusable bags, and getting away from single-use bags. Amazing how complicated things get when you have representatives of various voices at the table: seniors, community organizers speaking on behalf of various ethic and lower-income populations, representatives from the larger grocery stores and small business owners, and environmental concerns from plastic abolitionists to those representing big recycling advocacy groups, and little ol' me, just happy to be there. It was a fascinating process. Then the bag tax in Seattle was voted down, and the economy plummeted. And the bag thing fell off the radar.

Flash-forward to now. Bags are back, baby! What's cool is it looks like Portland will try to blaze a bag ban trail, and get something going prior to the state legislation, but that the city and state will work in harmony so that once it's all in place (hopefully) Oregonians will be dealing with the same bag rules across the state. Read all about the proposed details of the Portland bag ban. And the proposed Oregon bag plan.

Couple of things. Of course, there's a Facebook page: Ban the Bag! A campaign to end single use plastic bags in Portland (sponsored by the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation). Like it, or not.

Also, mark your calendars for plastic bag d-day, August 1, Portlanders. Major retailer Fred Meyer will give this bad-boy a test run in all its Portland stores and seek feedback. No more 'free' single use plastic bags. They will have paper available, and will promote the purchase of the reusable handled bags (it's unclear if the paper bags will require a 5 cent fee as legislation proposes). It does not appear Fred Meyer has set up a web page for this, but they do seek feedback via email: bagfeedback@fredmeyer.com.

Personally, I can't wait. There may be some huge opportunities to see grown ups acting like toddlers having ugly, loud, in-public meltdowns on August 1st and beyond when they find out their old, faithful free plastic bag is no longer an option. Bring your video cameras. Remember, America's Funniest Videos pays out big bucks if you capture these things on tape. Of course, you probably have to get the tantrum-thrower's permission before you can enter the video into any contests, which might be a tougher challenge.

It's about damn time Portland and Oregon ban these single-use plastic bags, and show some leadership. Thank you Sam Adams and Mark Hass for the proposed legislation. Your thoughts?


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