Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The ‘Bag Monster’ Presents 1,111 Citizen Petitions to the City Council

Today the Marys Peak Group of the Sierra Club, with the Bag Monster, presented to the Administrative Services Committee (ASC) 1,111 citizen petitions in support of the ordinance to reduce single-use plastic waste in Corvallis.

The petitions were signed by individuals who want to “encourage the use of reusable bags and reduce our dependence on finite natural resources.” The best way to do this is to ban single-use plastic bags and have a “pass-through cost” on single-use paper bags. If the cost of a paper bag is made apparent, which is now hidden in a customer’s purchase, this will remind us to bring our reusable bags.

The Sierra Club proposed an ordinance in November 2011 that bans single-use plastic carryout bags along with a five-cent pass-through charge on paper bags. Today, the City Staff presented an ordinance that bans plastic bags without a pass-through cost on paper bags. A ban on single-use plastic bags without an incentive to switch to reusable bags will cause people to overwhelmingly switch to paper bags.

Portland is experiencing this, as did San Francisco, which passed a similar ordinance. An ordinance without a pass-through cost means the problem switches from one single-use bag to another, which causes a hardship for retailers and does not break the single-use habit. San Francisco just voted to expand their ordinance and added a 10-cent minimum charge on paper bags. The Northwest Grocery Association will be at the ASC meeting to support this finding.

The Northwest Grocery Association, Sierra Club Attorney Dan Snyder, the First Alternative Co-op, Environment Oregon, and the Surfrider Foundation will attend and provide information on why a pass-through cost on single-use paper is important.

According to Debra Higbee-Sudyka, vice chair of the Marys Peak Group, “We received 1,300 signatures of support last November from Corvallis residents for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags, and recently 55 letters of support were signed from businesses. We are now showing further support through the 1,111 petitions that people have signed in support of the ordinance.”

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