Portland's plastic bag ban: 1 year later - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland's plastic bag ban: 1 year later

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

It's been nearly a year since an ordinance took effect in Portland that required selected stores to only provide recycled paper bags or reusable checkout bags to customers.

A new progress report released by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability shows use of reusable and recycled paper checkout bags has increased substantially.

According to the report, the city's ordinance, which took effect Oct. 15, 2011, affected 167 stores inside city limits. They're mostly grocery stores and pharmacies.

The ordinance requires select stores to provide only recyclable paper, compostable plastic, or reusable bags to customers. Stores that ignore the law would be warned then fined.

According to the report, the city recently contacted the affected stores to get some feedback on how the ordinance was going. It heard back from a few dozen of them. 

The city received fewer than five complaints from consumers regarding retailers that weren't complying with the ordinance, the report stated. Reusable checkout bag use increased 304%. Use of highly recycled paper checkout bags increased 491 percent.

Based on that information and ordinances in several other cities across the country, the BPS has come up with a few options for city leaders to consider regarding Portland's plastic bag ban.

The first option would be to keep the current policy in place without making any changes. The second option would be to expand the policy to include all retailers. The third option would be to expand the policy to include all retailers and require a 5-cent charge on paper bags to help offset the increased cost to retailers.

No decision has been made on the options on the proposed next steps presented in the report.

Mayor Sam Adams is set to comment on the report and its findings later today. 

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