Portland considers charging shoppers for paper bags

PORTLAND, Ore. - The city of Portland is considering charging you for paper bags every time you don't bring a reusable bag to the store.

Currently larger stores, grocery stores, and some pharmacies are affected by the city's plastic bag ban.

A new report says during the first year of the law reusable checkout bag use increased 304 percent, but paper bag use rose 491 percent.

Stores have complained about the cost of supplying paper bags to customers who don't bring their own. So the city is suggesting a 5 cent charge for shoppers who need a bag.

"What happened is that by banning plastic bags, people just switched to paper," a spokesperson for Fred Meyer said in a statement to KATU News. "Paper bags cost us between four and eight cents a bag. Plastic bags had only cost us a penny. Imposing a five cent fee on paper bags in important."

When asked why the City Council did not enforce a paper bag fee with the plastic bag ban, mayor's office spokeswoman Caryn Brooks said they wanted to test one concept and "then evaluate whether to include things such as a paper bag fee."

Shoppers had mixed reactions when asked about the idea.

"I think I would start to remember my reusable bag if I had to start paying for them," said shopper Lara Stone.

"Five cents doesn't mean that much to most people, but if they have to pay an extra five cents it seems to tip their behavior in another direction." said shopper Noel Studer-Stevek.

"I really like the fact that they got rid of plastic bags, but how dare them try to charge for the paper," said Cynthia Sims. "In this economy, I mean come on, five cents is five cents."

The city is also considering a mandate on smaller size stores to ban plastic bags as well. City commissioners will discuss the issue on Wednesday.

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