Plastic bag ban on hold in Coos Bay

Plastic bag ban on hold in Coos Bay
COOS BAY, Ore.-- "Paper or plastic?" will remain the question in Coos Bay grocery stores for now after the Coos Bay City Council voted down a motion to move forward with a plastic bag ban Tuesday night.

The motion Tuesday night was not an up or down vote on a bag ban, but it was a motion to see if city councillors wanted to move forward with a plastic bag ban in the near future.

The motion to move forward was narrowly rejected by a margin of 4-3. Many councillors said they needed more time to study the issue, but they felt it would be a better use of resources if they studied it on their own.

"I'm not willing to get on the bandwagon with this until I understand a lot more," said Mayor Crystal Shoji.

One councilor did not believe regulating plastic bags because people weren't properly disposing of them was the government's business.

"The city government of Coos Bay can not be the nanny state," said Councilor Gene Melton. "We can not tell you people what to do with your life. You must be willing to be responsible for your own actions."

Councilors believed that six ordinances currently being studied by city staffers needed to take priority over something new, and that the bag ban should be brought up at the end of the year when the council reconsiders its goals.

Councilors, even some who voted in favor of moving forward with the ban, said they would like to see how Eugene, Corvallis and Portland impletmented their bag bans before they follow along with what appears to be a growing trend in the state.

Councilor Mike Vaughan brought up the measure at the September 18th city council meeting saying it was clogging a water treatment plant, but Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said the issue Vaughan was referring to rarely happens.

Vaughan showed KCBY the area behind the Coos Bay Wal-mart he was concerned about on Wednesday. Vaughan said the bags are a problem the city should address even if the bags clogging the system does not happen often.

"It is just a bag that will never go away," Vaughan said. "It is always going to be somewhere either in a landfill or blwong around finally into the ocean."

Vaughan said plastic shopping bags do not break down as easily or even as fast as other plastic bags because of how they are manufactured.

For now, the city is encouraging residents to find a second use for their one time use plastic bag by picking up their pet's fecal matter or even donating them to the Coos Bay Library so they can protect the books when wet weather returns to the area.

Those who want a plastic bag ban say the educational process begins now. They are offering free screenings of the movie "Bag It" that is a documentary highlighting the consequences of the single-use plastic shopping bag.

The one-hour movie is being shown at the Broadway Theater at 6 p.m. on October 4th and 11th.