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Bend bid to ban plastic grocery bags begins

By Matt McDonald
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:25:35 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 21 2013 11:36:57 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Matt McDonald talks with local proponents of a ban on plastic bags at Bend grocery stores -- and a city councilor who is not a fan of the idea.

BEND, Ore. -

"Ban the Bag Bend" is a campaign that kicked off last week to ban plastic bags at grocery checkouts. The movement is gaining steam after a comment made during a class at OSU-Cascades -- but it may have to turn to voters to succeed, if one city councilor's views are any indication.

"One of our teachers actually told us that, there's no way we could actually ban plastic bags because people are so attached to them,” said Lexa McAllister, a sustainability student.

McAllister is leading the local "Ban the Bag Bend" movement, hoping a statewide ban comes out of the current legislative session in Salem. 

But if not...

“We're saying, 'If you don't ban them in February, we're going to take action and pass an ordinance and ban them in Bend,'” McAllister said.

Once they do go before the Bend City Council, it could be an uphill battle.

"It's ridiculous," Councilor Scott Ramsay said of the idea.

"You know, people have the right to choose whether they want to use a product or not use a product," he said.

"In a situation like Ray's (Food Place), where they chose not to give out plastic bags any more, great," Ramsay said. "If people don't want plastic bags, then go shop more at Ray's -- and if the other supermarkets see they're much more successful, they're going to change their culture too, but don't do it through legislation.”

Ray's Food Places in central Oregon pulled plastic bags this past week.  Portland, Eugene and Corvallis already have bans.

"To ban plastic bags at the grocery store, it's futile.  There's so many other things,” said Ramsay.

Statewide, plastics make up about 11.5 percent of what we throw out.  Paper, by comparison, makes up 17 percent.  Plastic film, like the kind used for the bags, makes up less than 5 percent. 

Dropping plastic could cost you.  Paper is more expensive than plastic.  The bill considered last year in Salem would add a 5 cent charge for every paper bag, to help stores offset the increased cost.

But it's a cost some believe is worth the ban.

If you want more information about the Ban the Bag Bend campaign, you can visit http://www.environmentoregon.org/ . We'll also make it our new KTVZ.COM Poll topic, which you can find halfway down the right side of the home page.

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