Corvallis second city in Oregon to ban plastic bags

Corvallis second city in Oregon to ban plastic bags

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Corvallis has become the second city in Oregon to curtail plastic bags.

The City Council unanimously gave its final approval Monday night to ban single-use plastic bags at retail outlets.

Portland has already adopted a retail bag ban, and other cities, including Eugene, are studying the idea. San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban the bags, and Seattle's ban went into effect Sunday.

Proponents argue that the plastic bags are a hazard to wildlife and a polluter of oceans. Opponents say bans deny consumers a choice and the bags are both convenient and recyclable.

The new ordinance requires businesses to impose a pass-through fee of 5 cents or more on paper grocery bags to encourage consumers to use reusable bags, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.

Businesses with more than 50 employees have six months to phase out plastic bags. Smaller businesses have a year.

Violators face a minimum fine of $200.

The law doesn't ban bags used to wrap meat, produce or bulk food items. Bars and restaurants are exempt, as are pharmacy prescription bags.

The law's passage was assured by a vote two weeks ago, but the council delayed the final action so member Steve Hervey could put material into the record in support of the measure, in case it is challenged in court.

Proponents of the ban had taken to wearing a costume of bags designed to represent what they said were the 500 bags the average Oregonian uses each year.

In a statement issued after the vote, Environment Oregon said the "Bag Monster" would head for Eugene, where the council has scheduled a meeting July 23 to discuss a bag ban.

___

Information from: Gazette-Times, http://www.gtconnect.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press