Portland’s bag ban expansion bad for environment

by NW Spotlight

The Oregonian reported this week that the Portland City Council voted to greatly expand the city’s 1-year-old ban on plastic bags. The expanded bag ban now includes “an estimated 5,000 restaurants and retailers, including food carts, farmers markets and corner stores.” Last year’s bag ban affected only 200 businesses.

With a few exceptions, now Portland “customers will have to switch to paper, bring their own bags or go without to carry items out of stores.”

Following the vote on Portland’s bag ban expansion, the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) released a statement that noted “The expansion of Portland’s bag ban will continue to have a negative impact on consumers, and, ironically, the environment. Portland residents will be forced to purchase even more reusable bags which cannot be recycled, are predominately imported from China, and have been proven to harbor dangerous bacteria. Those interested in real solutions to reducing litter and protecting the environment should pursue scientifically sound, common sense policies – ones that encourage a comprehensive statewide recycling solution that address all forms of plastic bags, sacks and wraps – instead of targeting one product that makes up a fraction of a percent of the waste stream.”

As was noted in a March 2012 Oregon Catalyst article on a potential Corvallis bag ban, plastic bags are 100% recyclable and are made in the U.S., using domestic natural gas, and they support American jobs.

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Posted by at 12:22 | Posted in Environment, Plastic bags | 212 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Even the Willamette Week refers to certain portions of the city of Portland as the Kremlin. And indeed, the City is fast becoming a socialistic dark cloud for liberty and individual freedom. So, now when you shop in Portland you maybe should wear a long over-coat with big pockets, ala the old failed Soviet Union consumer model. Portland’s assault on liberty makes shopping just outside its borders attractive. For folks who walk or bike to their local grocery it is very dispiriting to be given a flimsy paper bag unable to withstand the rain, and always less flexible than a plastic bag; such that shopping and traveling via walking or biking is penalized more so than otherwise.
    The other recent move of Portland city hall is to cut garbage can pickup service from weekly to every other week. A stepdaughter returns home and fills the garbage can full with more than another week until pick up; and this with Thanksgiving dinner prep and clean-up still ahead. One just can’t dump food in the green bin without also taking care to not have it dripping with food residue (attractive to rats and other rodents). So, Soviet Portland now enslaves its people to hours each month to garbage duty (and the people of North Plains get a certain vinegar-like aroma not totally natural for the area). The Sustainable Bureaucrats, making six figure like compensation for their decrees for the peasant class, say just get a bigger garbage can. But getting a bigger garbage can to the curb from back of the house spells hernia for the peasants.
    And it’s useless to fight Kremlin city hall because the public tax largess and army of city bureaucrats are used to defeat any citizen push back, making city hall’s hold on power iron clad.
    Happy Holidays, Portlandia peasants!

    • DavidAppell

      Wasn’t it Patrick Henry who said, “Give me plastic bags or give me death! (The rest of the planet can go to hell.)”

      • Rupert in Springfield

        So you have some argument that plastic bags are making the entire planet go to hell?

        Nope, probably not.

        It would really help your standing if you could present a cogent argument sometime.

        Please David – Use your vast scientific skill to outline for us here how use of plastic bags will result in the planet “going to hell”

        • DavidAppell

          It’s the attitude that’s causing the planet to go to hell, not the bags per se. (Though they don’t help.)

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Anyone who doesn’t agree with you is causing the planet to “go to hell”

            Well, at least its different from the standard internet “anyone who doesn’t agree with me is a Nazi” approach. Just as brain dead though.

          • DavidAppell

            It’s science that says our extravagant use of fossil fuels is causing the planet to go to hell. We are committed to about twice as much warming as we’ve already had, and since we’re doing absolutely nothing about emissions (except increasing them even more) we are bound for a good deal of warming and climate change. About 10% of the CO2 we emit will still be in the atmosphere 100,000 years from now, warming it. The CO2 you and I emit in just this hour will ultimately cause an atomic bomb’s worth of warming. That’s shameful. The entire legacy of this age will be, in 1000 years or 10,000 years or a million years, the spike in atmospheric and oceanic carbon that altered the climate and ocean for eons. If there is anyone alive then they will look back on us as deranged, especially the current couple of generations who knew about the problem and refused to address it.

          • 3H

            He answers your directly, and without insult, and this is how you respond? You jump on David for engaging in what you perceive as hyperbole, and you respond with hyperbole? You really can’t see the hypocrisy of your responses can you?

      • guest

        Believe Al Capp would term DuhAppellant as a shmoozer.

  • DavidAppell

    APBA is nothing but a front organization for Big Oil and Big Chem:

    • jim karlock

      DavidAppell—-APBA is nothing but a front organization for Big Oil
      JK—– And what is wrong with big oil?
      They supply a much needed commodity at very reasonable prices (except for OPEC’s price fixing).

      David, why don’t you go free of big oil? I think you could most easily accomplish this by taking part in one of the countries that have NO CORPORATE influence – North Korea or Cuba. (Of course you better watch what you say)


      • DavidAppell

        What’s wrong with Big Oil is that they are producing a product that damages the world’s environment, and they don’t care as long as they keep the profits and the public pays the cost.

        For plastic bags in particular, about 4% of the world’s oil production goes to making plastic bags (hence their front group, which is simply a disguise for protecting profits). An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die each year from entanglement or ingestion of plastic. And no one really knows what the synthetics in the polymers might be doing.

        • Big oil doesn’t give a crap which bag you use, and if they did, they would be all for paper. Because it takes far more oil to produce paper than plastic. Do some research. The American Chemistry Council is promoting plastic, not oil use. And just because an organization is promoting something doesn’t make it wrong or untrustworthy. On this subject, they are actually correct – plastic uses less resources and creates less pollution than paper or reusables. This is fact. The problem is litter, plastic litter is bad. But plastic checkout bags make up a teeny tiny percentage of all litter. Keep America Beautiful did a litter composition study that is 250 pages long and only mentions plastic bags (at very low levels) twice. And the solution to litter isn’t bans, it’s getting people to not litter. Litter is mainly cigarette butts, soda cans, and fast food wrappers. Again, do some research my friend.

          • DavidAppell

            Any particular type of litter — potato chip bags, say — makes up a tiny fraction of all litter. That’s not a reason not to be concerned about it, any more than that my taxes make up a tiny percentage of government revenue so it doesn’t matter if I don’t pay them.

            I am very dubious that “plastic uses less resources and creates less pollution than paper or reusables.” Especially for renewable bags (which also rarely end up tossed into the environment.)

            The fact is that plastic debris, especially including plastic bags, are an increasing threat to ocean ecosystems, killing large numbers of animals each year and doing who knows what else. I find it difficult to understand why so many people bitch and moan about being expected to minimize their impact, especially regarding something so small as a reusable bag. Human selfishness seems to have no end to it.

  • 3H

    And they still repeat the lie that the reusable bag was responsible when, in fact, it was because the girl went into the bathroom and vomited and had diarrhea just before delivering the cookies. The soccer team would have become sick regardless of what kind of bags they had been in. Why tell a lie once when you can repeat it over and over again. Amazing. Simply amazing.

    • jim karlock

      Of course re-using bags has no possibility of spreading bacteria from produce or fresh meat contamination as they spoil!
      Do you really believe that? – What are you – stupid or something?
      (Have you ever had meat drip in the bag?)


      • 3H

        So, do you feel better after your little tantrum?

        If there is evidence of what they are claiming, then present it. Presenting evidence, that isn’t evidence of what they’re saying, looks like deliberate obfuscation. The article they linked to doesn’t support their contention.

        Wanna kick the stuffing out of more straw men Jim?

      • DavidAppell

        The bags are washable.

        • Damascusdean

          Yes but then you would have to use energy and water. Plastic is the only possible solution here according to Jim. Turn oil into throwaway plastic. Brilliant.

    • DavidAppell

      Yes, but isn’t it true she was reading Karl Marx in the bathroom? And the soccer team’s uniforms were red? Hmmmmm?

      • 3H

        So.. it’s communism that causes the Norovirus! I always thought so. Every picture I’ve seen of Karl shows him all congested and red-eyed.

  • valley person

    Poor conservatives. They simply can’t adjust themselves to conservation. They want the freedom to pollute, and view any effort to make the earth we live on a bit better a communist takeover.

    This is why you are slipping folks.

    • I’m not a conservative, but I have looked at the actual science of bags and bans. Bans promote the use of paper bags, which advocates will say is a renewable resource. Paper is not a renewable resource – the trees may be, but not the paper. To make paper requires thousands of gallons of water (that becomes polluted), and four times more oil to produce than plastic, and seven times more oil to transport. All this creates many times the pollution of plastic bags. The main, and only, legitimate complaint against plastic bags is litter. But plastic litter is not all plastic checkout bags. What about chip bags, candy bar wrappers, produce bags, etc. Practically everything in a grocery store is packaged in single use plastic, and the only piece of plastic you go home with that people CAN and DO reuse is the checkout bag – which gets banned. So now, instead of reusing checkout bags for garbage or pet waste pickup, people have to purchase single use packaged trash bags.

      As for Reusable bags – the vast majority are made of plastic (non-woven polypropylene) that isn’t recyclable and is imported from China. I’m sure there was no pollution created by shipping millions of these across the ocean.

      Supporting bag bans is BAD for the environment.

      • DavidAppell

        Is there data showing more paper bags being used where plastic bags are banned?

        Of course there is other litter besides plastic bags, and as much of it should be prevented as possible. But plastic bags are particularly prone to being transported by wind, and because they sometimes *are* reused is why they spread more.

        Reusable bags are, well, reusable — dozens if not hundreds of times. Their impact per bag is smaller than for plastic bags, and they don’t fly away in the breeze and affect wildlife or the environment.

        I have been using reusable bags for 2-3 years, and frankly I prefer them — they don’t break, are easier to carry, and there is no accumulation of bags to deal with. I would use them even if there was no ban. And they don’t pollute as much.

      • Damascusdean

        Paper is a renewable and recyclable product, not a resource. Trees are a renewable resource. Plastic bags are basically pollution waiting to happen.

        And there are a multitude of reusable bags made of hemp, cotton, and many other products available, many of them made locally. Conservatives need to get over this and move on.

    • guest

      URA d’oh bawl who really should bong on BlueCoup bOregon. Nuts to you, you idiot!

  • crabman34

    This is beyond comical. I love how the editors at Oregon Catalyst simply recycle an industry press release to cover this new “news” without bothering to assess the facts. Considering the same cast and crew was commenting on this the last time OC ran industry talking points as news (“this just in! plastic bans are actually GOOD for the environment! Who knew!?”), I’m surprised we are still having the same stupid conversation.

    When the republican party finally abandons its intellectually dishonest, anti-science, knee-jerk protectionism of all things corporate, then we can finally begin to have a conversation. Until then, we will continue laughing as you provide comic relief far better than the best political satirists can come up with.

    And before I’m attacked about calling out corporatists. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with corporations, per se, but to constantly fall on your swords any time someone attacks a corporation for unethical behavior renders your arguments toothless. As you can see in the comments here, some of your readers would fall on their swords to defend Big Oil. Why?

    • Marian Oath

      Hey crabgrass, get your governmen-tedium off my freedom!

      • DavidAppell

        This is the funniest — or dumbest — thing: the notion that your “freedom” depends on your ability to use plastic bags (and, in general, pollute at will). Your freedom is under attack from a host of directions, as economic options are closing for the middle class, and as the government builds huge data centers (as in Utah) to suck up every morsel of data you produce. As our governments tortures people, wiretaps without warrants, are preparing to fly drones over cities, dismantle safety nets so the rich can get even richer, ignore the massive problem of climate change for the sake of corporate interests, lets Web sites track everything you do, and embarks on offensive cyberwars, and much more.

        And you people make your stand on plastic bags. Brilliant.

        • Marian Oath

          Neither “2016” or “Agenda 21” likely to be found in DA’s orchard – however, a piece Jason Mattera pie and a Pink Lady might sweeten his disposition attending this turkey’s day, Nov 22.

          • DavidAppell

            Agenda 21 is simply scare-mongering for the ill-informed. So naturally it goes over big in fundamentalist circles.

          • 3H

            LOL.. they are so worried about what the UN is going to do (supposedly) they don’t see the damage their own government is doing.

            Why is it you don’t hear anything from most conservatives about the increasingly unchecked power of the US government to spy on its own citizens.. or have them killed in foreign lands? Instead, they just piddle around in the puddle worried about the few decent things the government does do – half-assed. No, why worry about the erosion of real civil liberties when you can spend all your time attacking the poor and elderly or complain that the guv’mint is taking away your right to pollute when and where you want to. Penny wise and pound-foolish.

          • Marian Oath

            And a New World Ordor gains your ardor. DA? Good pluck Mr.

          • DavidAppell

            Did I say that? No, I did not.

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