The Newport City Council appears interested in joining a movement to ban single use plastic bags, but they’re not quite sure yet how to fall in line behind the leaders. The Surfrider Foundation, an advocacy group trying get the bags banned, told the council that they plan to again request the Oregon Legislature to take up a statewide ban on the bags when it convenes next winter but that they want as many cities and counties as possible to join them in the cause. Surfrider’s Charlie Plybon told the council that if Oregon cities like Newport enact their own bag ban, it might make the legislature more able to withstand the fierce lobbying by plastic bag makers that convinced it to drop the issue last session.
City Councilors seemed amenable to Surfrider’s strategy but strongly indicated that local residents and businesses should be allowed to weigh in on the debate with at least one public hearing to get all the ban implications on the table. Those aspects involve convenience, surcharge for plastic or paper bags, the cost of permanent cloth varieties, etc. Plybon told the council his organization will draft a proposed ordinance so the council and the public will have something tangible to work with. That public hearing could happen as early as October 3rd in front of the Newport City Council.
The city of Portland recently banned single use plastic shopping bags as have a number of U.S. cities. Supporters of the ban point out that the bags cause litter, clog storm drains, cannot be recycled so they’re choking our landfills, pollute rivers and the ocean and are a threat to wildlife both on land and sea since they’re not biodegradable.
City Councilor David Allen said he would be more comfortable seeing The Surfrider Foundation garnering a more formidable “Ban the Bag” lobbying effort on behalf of Oregon cities and counties during the next legislative session which begins shortly after the first of the year. In a comment on this story Allen added, “In my view, a ban should be addressed at the state level by the Legislature, if at all, rather than through a patchwork of ordinances at the local level. And, also, at this point I do not support a local ban in Newport. However, I do support the idea of more outreach to local residents and businesses so they can weigh in on this with other options at one or more public hearings before the council.”
Surfrider’s Charlie Plybon said his group will immediately begin crafting a bag ban ordinance for the city’s and public’s consideration at the council’s October 3rd meeting.