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Central Oregon Should Ban Plastic Bags

first_imgCentral Oregon Should Ban Plastic Bags 0 Facebook LinkedIn Email According to Environment Oregon, Oregonians use about 1.7 billion single-use plastic bags each year. Some of those bags find their way into the ocean, killing sea turtles, sea birds and marine mammals that mistake them for food. Think anytime you see one of those ugly plastic bags floating around the high desert what they can do to wildlife and our usually pristine environment. Due to their durability, plastic bags can take centuries to decompose.Another problem associated with the typical plastic bag is the use of non-renewable resources in manufacturing them such as crude oil, gas and coal. A car could drive about 36 feet on the amount of petroleum used to make a single small plastic bag.Bag ban opponents who helped defeat a statewide ban this year insist plastic bags are easily recycled, provide jobs and are the most sanitary way to transport groceries. The American Progressive Bag Alliance states that plastic bags are the environmental choice, generating 80 percent less waste than paper bags. They are missing the point of what the plastic bags can do to the environment.And when it comes to job creation bag companies have the option to switch to biogradable materials. Some modern bags are made of vegetable-based bioplastics, which can decay organically and prevent a build-up of toxic plastic bags in landfills and the natural environment. Bags can also be made from degradable polyethylene film. However, most degradable bags do not readily decompose in a sealed landfill and represent a possible contaminant to plastic recycling operations.Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Seattle and San Francisco already have some form of a plastic bag ban. Single-use plastic carryout bags have afforded consumers short-term convenience for years, but they have long-term costs in terms of litter and impact on wildlife and the environment. In an effort to promote reusable shopping bags and reduce litter, the City of Eugene implemented a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags in all retail establishments within city limits in May.All retail businesses including grocery stores, departments and clothing stores, convenience stores and local markets located within the Eugene city limits are now required to provide only recycled paper bags or reusable bags as carryout bags for customers. Corvallis has also applied the plastic bag ban to all retailers in the city and requiring a 5 cent pass through cost on paper bags to encourage reusable bags.Consider this, in Washington D.C. a bag fee was placed on plastic bags and the little 5 cents shifted consumers from an estimated 270 million bags per year to 55 million bags per year. The businesses that reported estimated a range of bag use down by 50-80 percent. And that makes good business cents too…nickels add up to business savings and the dramatic decrease in bag use means reduction in overhead costs to businesses.Some large store chains have banned plastic shopping bags such as Whole Foods and IKEA. Outright bans have been introduced in many countries, notably China, which banned very thin plastic bags nationwide in 2008.Heavy-duty plastic shopping bags are suitable for reuse as reusable shopping bags. All types of plastic shopping bags can be recycled into new bags where effective collection schemes exist such as the bags made by our own Bend company, Sara Bella Upcycled.Banning plastic bags seems a suitable solution to the problems I mentioned. Then what? The plastic bag bans are about shifting consumer behaviors to reusable options. The application to all retailers and the pass through cost on paper are the most effective strategies to do this. It makes good business and environmental sense. (The Northwest Grocery Association, which represents large grocery stores such as Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertson’s, is backing local bag bans.)A renewed effort to ban plastic bags in cities around Oregon is kicking off after a statewide ban failed in the Legislative session. We should listen to what the proponents have to say.Shall we have a region wide ban on plastic bags? Ask your own city councilors where they stand and encourage this change in our communities. Share. Twittercenter_img Google+ Tumblr on August 8, 2013 Pinterest By Pamela Hulse Andrews E-Headlineslast_img

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