Over a million residents in the Northwest of theUnited Statesare managing without plastic grocery bags. These people living in Washington or Oregon cities have no choice as retail outlets are no longer distributing single-use plastic bags.
City by city
The numbers of people who are using reusable bags (whether they are promotional reusable bags or purchased specifically for the purpose) are on the rise as more and more cities are banning plastic bags.
The use of single-use bags was banned in Seattle and in the beginning of July. Laws against plastic bags are yet to be implemented in six Northwest cities, among which Corvallis, Oreis the most recent. The university town of Willamette Valley also voted in favor of the rule and adopted it recently.
Organizations backing the ban and encouraging wholesale reusable bags
The ban on plastic bags, city by city is being encouraged by conservation groups which include Environment Oregon and Surfrider Foundation. Both these organizations were unable to pass statewide bans the previous year inOregonandWashington. The group supports their initiative by stating it is an effort to keep out plastic from the marine environment because once it enters this environment it breaks down and is consumed by aquatic life.
The Northwest Grocery Association supported the initiative, which failed in 2011. The association was hoping to escape from a web of diverse laws the grocers would have to follow around the region.
Although environmental groups are happy about the outcome of their local approach, they have not given up the idea of statewide bans. Totally, 1.4 million people reside in Northwest cities that have a ban on plastic bags.
According to the field manager of Surfrider Foundation, Charlie Plybon, estimates that the number of plastic bags the average American uses every year are about 300 bags. If every single resident of a city where the bags are banned represents one of those Americans who do away with plastic bags, it would add up to 432 million lesser plastic bags each year in the Northwest.
The idea behind the bans is to make people move from using plastic bags to reusable ones. In order for this to be effective retailers should charge for bags made from recycled papers otherwise consumers will just replace their plastic bags with papers ones, which misses the point of the ban altogether.