Adams: Ban would kick citys plastic bag habit

Proposal dropped a year ago headed back to City Council

A year after a local effort to ban single-use plastic grocery bags in Portland sputtered, Mayor Sam Adams said this week that he would take his case again to the City Council.

Adams will introduce a new ordinance on Thursday, July 21, that will prohibit large grocery stores and retailers from using the plastic bags. Adams will introduce his ban-the-bag ordinance at about 3:45 p.m. at City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave.

Ban could take effect in October

The proposal comes almost a year to the day that Adams released a draft ordinance in July 2010 to prevent stores from giving customers single-use plastic bags at their checkout counters. The ordinance proposed in 2010 would have also imposed a 5-cent fee on recycled paper bags and compostable plastic bags. The city hoped the fee would motivate shoppers to bring their own reusable bags.


• Click here to listen to Mayor Sam Adams tell KPAM reporter Mark Provost about the proposed plastic bag ban.

Adams told KPAM 860 reporter Mark Provost on Friday that the new ordinance would not include the 5-cent fee on paper bags.

'These bags are used once, but they last forever,' Adams said. 'They might break down into the chemicals, but those chemicals are getting into the marine-based food chain and contaminating the water.'

The new ordinance would focus first on major retailers and large pharmacies. If approved, the ban would take effect in mid-October.

'Over nine in 10 bags are simply thrown away, not reused, not recycled,' Adams said. 'It's not the best use of our fossil fuels and our precious natural resources. It's a bad habit worth kicking.'

'We go our own way'

Adams backed off the ordinance a year ago so the Oregon Legislature could deal with the issue. Lawmakers failed to agree on a statewide ban during this year's session, so Adams put the issue back on the council agenda.

'This is Portland,' Adams said. 'We're willing to go our own way when we think it's in our best interest and the best interest of the greater good.'

Adams said Oregonians use an estimated 1.7 billion single-use plastic checkout bags each year - the equivalent of 444 bags for every person in the state every year.

A year ago, opponents of the plan said they would rather see a statewide program avoid the crazy quilt of regulations from city to city.

To read details of the mayor's plan, go to .