Portland city council expands plastic bag ban

Portland city council expands plastic bag ban
Supporters of the plastic bag ban held a news conference on the steps of City Hall with the "bag monster."

PORTLAND, Ore. – Members of Portland’s city council voted unanimously on Thursday to expand a plastic bag ban in the city.

Under the expanded ban, almost all stores and restaurants will only be able to offer recycled paper bags or reusable bags.

It takes effect for large retailers in March. Large retailers include stores that are bigger than 10,000 square feet, including larger restaurants.

Smaller stores and businesses like food carts have until next October to comply.

Environmental groups gathered in front of City Hall before the afternoon vote. They said the original bag ban was a good start, but more needs to be done to cut down on pollution.

“There have been millions of plastic bags eliminated from our waste stream,” said Tara Gallagher with the Surfrider Foundation. “However, this important first step was not enough in encouraging reusable bag use. That is our ultimate goal.”

The council had originally ruled last year to ban single-use plastic bags from most grocery stores.

Mayor Sam Adams has said with the bigger ban, it'll cut down on the litter the bags create all over the city and cut out problems they cause in recycling plants.

He says a study of the current bag ban shows a big improvement in more Portlanders than ever using reusable bags instead of plastic. So his reasoning is a bigger ban can only be better. He also says an all-inclusive ban will help cut back on the 1.7 million plastic bags used in Oregon every year.