Ashland Becomes the Fourth Oregon City to Ban Plastic Bags

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Rikki Seguin

Local support leads City Council to vote against plastic bags

Environment Oregon

ASHLAND, OR – On Tuesday night, the Ashland City Council voted in favor of a ban on plastic bags. Plastic bag bans have seen growing public support in Oregon, with the cities of Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene adopting similar bag bans since 2011.

Last night, Ashland took a big step by joining the growing list of plastic bag-free cities by passing the ordinance with a vote. The approved ordinance bans the use of single use plastic bag and assesses at $0.10 fee for paper bags.

Ashland has become the first city in Southern Oregon to ban plastic bags and is setting an example of sustainable leadership for the city of 20,000 people.

Last year, the Ashland Conservation Commission took up the issue, encouraging the City Council to pursue a ban on plastic bags. In November, when the full City Council first discussed a potential citywide ban on plastic bags, Ashland citizens and local businesses turned out in droves to demonstrate their support. And just last month, at the first reading of the ordinance, the council chambers were filled to capacity with supportive Ashland residents.

Over the last year, Environment Oregon collected more than 500 signatures from citizens in support of a plastic bag ban, as well as endorsements from nearly 100 local businesses. This support laid the groundwork for Tuesday’s vote and exemplifies the community support for environmental leadership in Oregon.

“The growing support for plastic bag bans is evident, with cities from Portland to Ashland passing local bans on plastic bags,” said Rikki Seguin, conservation advocate with Environment Oregon. “We look forward to working with additional cities that wish to stand up for the health of our waterways by banning plastic bags.”

Plastic pollution is a huge environmental concern; Oregonians are estimated to use more than 1.7 billion bags a year, too many of which end up as pollution in Oregon’s waterways, like the Rogue River, and ultimately the Pacific Ocean. Plastic pollution is especially harmful to wildlife, killing thousands of birds and marine animals every year. Local plastic bag bans keep more disposable plastic bags out of our waste stream and away from our waterways, thereby decreasing the threat posed to wildlife.

Plastic bag bans in these four Oregon cities are estimated to keep nearly 272 million plastic bags out of waste stream annually.

In addition to the four Oregon cities that currently boast plastic bag bans, several other cities are well on their way. Environment Oregon has worked with citizen activists in Bend, Salem, West Linn, Beaverton, Tigard, and Forest Grove on initiatives to ban plastic bags.

Plastic bag bans are becoming more common across the United States – both California and Rhode Island have introduced statewide plastic bag ban legislation. Multiple communities in states across the nation have also banned plastic bags, including cities in Hawaii, Colorado, Washington, and Texas.

Environment Oregon will continue to work with activists in cities and towns across the state to pass bag bans and lay the groundwork for a statewide ban on disposable plastic bags in Oregon.