Pacific Ocean | Ecotrope

Fewer bags, cheaper groceries?

Ecotrope | July 25, 2010 5:55 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:48 p.m.

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plastic-bags

Image courtesy of Flickr user evelynishere

Plastic bags awaiting recycling

The Northwest Grocery Association is supporting a plastic bag ban in Portland. And after a city council vote scheduled for August, the next move could be toward a statewide ban.

The grocers say the ban will be good for business. And environmentalists want to get the immortal, petroleum-based plastic out of the waste stream.

The idea has been catching on since San Francisco led the charge with its citywide ban in 2007.

Plastic and paper bags only appear to be free to grocery shoppers, said the Northwest Grocery Association president. Some of their costs are incorporated into food prices passed onto shoppers. Other costs – what’s the price of a sea turtle choking to death after mistaking a plastic bag for a jellyfish? – are borne elsewhere. (Plastic bags make up a good chunk of the trash in the ocean.)

By the grocers’ logic, the plastic bag ban should make groceries cheaper in Portland. Anybody looking at how long it would take for the savings to outpace the cost of reusable bags?

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