CORVALLIS, OR—At a press conference this morning hosted by Environment Oregon and the Mary’s Peak Sierra Club chapter, local businesses and environmentalists urged the Corvallis City Council to move quickly in reducing plastic pollution by banning single-use, checkout plastic bags. The announcement comes prior to the City Council’s public comment meeting at 5:30 PM tonight at the Corvallis Public Library.
“Plastic pollution has created an environmental disaster for our ocean and local businesses recognize that nothing we use for just a few minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years,” said Sarah Higginbotham, Environment Oregon State Director.
The coalition of local and statewide organizations released a letter from over 55 local businesses in support of a ban. Debra Higbee-Sudyka of Mary’s Peak Sierra Club chapter explained the grassroots effort and ongoing conversations that went into garnering local business support.
Also released was a letter of support for a ban on plastic bags with a pass-through fee on paper bags from the Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA)—which represents major grocery chains like Safeway and Fred Meyer. The fee will support local businesses in covering the higher cost of paper bags, and has been shown to most effectively encourage consumers to switch to reusable alternatives.
One local grocery store is already leading the way. Donna Tarasawa of First Alternative Co-Op spoke about the positive response from customers who appreciate First Alternative’s proactive step to not provide plastic checkout bags, as well as the success of their five-cent fee on paper bags.
Local master recycler and longtime resident, Thomas Pfleeger, addressed the problems plastic bags create for Oregon’s comingled recycling facilities, costing the state and recyclers money when bags frequently obstruct machinery. In total, less than 5% of plastic checkout bags were recycled nationally in 2010, according to the latest data from the EPA.
“With the average Oregonian using about 500 plastic bags a year, Corvallis—a longtime leader nationally on sustainability issues—can make a real difference by passing a bag ban,” Higginbotham said. “We are here today to urge the Corvallis City Council not to wait in passing an effective plastic bag ban.”