PORTLAND, ORE – Environment Oregon announced their response to the City of Portland’s one-year report on the plastic bag ban. State Director Sarah Higginbotham released this statement endorsing an expansion of the plastic bag ban policy:
“We applaud the City of Portland for having been the first city in Oregon to take action when it banned these harmful and unnecessary plastic bags in 2011. With plastic bag use down and reusable bag use up at major retailers, we know that progress has been made in cutting plastic pollution that makes its way into our waterways, oceans and beaches where it never biodegrades.
However, Portland’s initial policy did not go far enough, banning single-use plastic bags at only some retailers. Designed to be used for only minutes, plastic bags never degrade and last hundreds of years in the ocean. Plastic pollution can kill wildlife that mistake it for food or become entangled in it. Over the past 25 years, plastic bags have been one of the top items collected on International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Problems with plastic pollution in Oregon and around the world persist on a massive scale, both for wildlife and our special places. As The Oregonian reported on September 25th, not only do we have over 100 million tons of garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Oregon’s beaches have become the dumping ground for toxic-laden plastic trash.
Portland can continue to make a meaningful difference. The City Council should support expanding the plastic bag ban to all retailers, with a plan for phasing in restaurants as well. This is the model adopted by the City of San Francisco, which like Portland, first passed a less inclusive policy, and revisited the issue in 2012.
Portland should be proud of its leadership on sustainability, and like cities from San Francisco, California to Barrington, Rhode Island and Corvallis, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, pass a comprehensive plastic bag policy that is covers all retailers and restaurants and better protects our environment from dangerous plastic bag waste.”