Portland bans disposable plastic bags

Portland bans disposable plastic bags »Play Video
Disposable plastic bag ban supporters, dressed in plastic bags, celebrate after the Portland City Council unanimously voted to ban plastic bags found at the grocery stores.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland city commissioners unanimously voted to ban disposable plastic bags that are found at the grocery store after debating the issue Thursday.

It was a win for Portland Mayor Sam Adams who has been pushing for the ban.

When the vote was official, those inside the council chambers at City Hall erupted in applause and cheers which included a standing ovation from the supporters in the crowd.

Before the vote, city leaders talked a lot about Portland setting an example for the rest of the state by making the decision. They heard a lot of testimony from both sides of the issue.

Supporters of the ban said that each person in Portland uses 440 single-use plastic bags a year. And those bags gum up recycling plants and have harmful effects on the environment.

Those who spoke against the ban said that claims of environmental harm are inflated and that plastic bags can be reused.

City commissioners had hoped state legislators would have enacted this legislation across Oregon. But since that didn’t happen, they voted on the ordinance for Portland, saying the city is taking a bold step forward in banning plastic bags.

"There's no reason for them," said bag-ban supporter Mark Gamba. "We can use other things we've been using. In my family, we've been using canvas bags for 15 years."

A large group of supporters came out from a nonprofit called Surfrider and filled up a lot of the seats in council chambers dressed in bags.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz said that group alone e-mailed her about 300 times about banning the bag.

The ban doesn't apply to every plastic bag. Customers would still be able to use those plastic bags found in the produce and meat sections or in the pharmacy.

It will go into effect Oct. 15.