EUGENE, OR—Local businesses announced their support of a plastic bag ban this morning, including over 60 local independent businesses and 15 major grocery stores. Joined by Mayor Kitty Piercy and supporters, Environment Oregon announced broad businesses support for the proposed ban at a press conference at Hummingbird Wholesale in downtown Eugene.
“The ocean is all of ours,” said Mayor Piercy, speaking about the need to solve the plastic bag ban problem that’s polluting local rivers and the Pacific Ocean, and proving deadly to wildlife. The proposed bag ban will reduce the 1.7 billion plastic bags Oregonians use annually that contribute to land-based litter, kill thousands of marine animals, and pollute the ocean for hundreds of years.
The announcement of strong local business support comes prior to Eugene City Council’s work session tonight at 5:30 PM, where councilors will take their first look at a proposed bag ban ordinance.
A list of over 60 local supporting businesses was released by Environment Oregon, a statewide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization, as well as a letter from the Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA)—which represents major grocery chains like Safeway and Fred Meyer—detailing NWGA’s support of the proposed bag ban before City Council.
“Eugene businesses big and small are standing up with hundreds of other businesses around the country to help to ban these wasteful and costly bags,” said Sarah Higginbotham, State Director of Environment Oregon. “We are here today to urge the City Council to move swiftly in protecting our oceans by adopting a plastic bag ban. “
Local grocery store owner, Gavin McComas, explained how Sundance Natural Foods’ commitment to not use plastic grocery checkout bags has long been part of their business model. McComas emphasized the use of reusable bags as the best outcome from his store’s policy.
Plastic bags also create major problems for Oregon’s recyclers. The Executive Director of Bring Recycling, a non-profit that provides expertise to the community and businesses about recycling, explained that plastic bags create exorbitant costs to Oregon’s recycling system.
“Plastic bags make up just 1% of the recovered materials,” Daniels said, “but account for 40% of the costs.” That’s because plastic bags jam the recycling machinery, not equipped for handling the material.
A plastic “bag monster” was also in attendance, wearing 500 plastic bags to demonstrate how many bags the average Oregonian uses every year.