EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- After Monday night’s city council meeting, Eugene is now the third Oregon city - after Portland and Corvallis - to call for a ban on plastic bags in stores and markets. But the new ordinance will not go into effect for six months.
The vote was six to two in favor of banning single-use plastic bags and the thicker ones used at department stores. The ordinance also includes a five-cent charge for paper bags. The idea is to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags to stores in order to keep plastic out of landfills and oceans.
Council member Mike Clark cast one of the two dissenting votes, saying, “This is about controlling people's behavior. This is about getting people to act differently and it's about the creation of a grocery tax to get folks to behave like activists want them to. And I’m not interested in supporting that.”
“This is not a tax,” responded Councilor Alan Zelenka, “because it is completely avoidable and potentially will not add a nickel to anybody's grocery bill if they bring their [own] bag, which, hopefully, the grocers will supply for them.”
Businesses have six months to make the changes.
The city plans to start an education and outreach program and offer some free reusable bags to low-income residents.
Also Monday night, the Eugene City Council passed a symbolic resolution opposing the transport of coal by train through the city, which would eventually be exported by the Port of Coos Bay.
Council members in support of the resolution said they are in favor of trains in general, but against anything that could have a negative effect on the city.
The council also asked for a study on how coal trains could affect the health of those who live near the train tracks and how the environment could be affected.