Ban is not in the bag

Remember not long ago when dozens of cities were talking about charging a few cents per plastic bag or even imposing bans to reduce their use? It appears the idea may be heading toward a place much like the plastic bag vortex floating in the North Pacific gyre.

Just as the idea was beginning to take hold, the economy tanked, and now some local governments are hesitant to ask voters to pay 5, 10 or 20 cents for a plastic bag. Portland, Ore., had proposed a 5 to 20 cent bag fee, but Mayor Sam Adams told the New York Times this month that he would not pursue it. The paper reports that several bag bills are also stalled in Virginia, where retail groups and bag makers say bans and fees will hurt business. And in Seattle, which last summer became the first city in the nation to approve a fee on paper and plastic bags, a petition drive financed by the plastic bag industry delayed the plan. The issue goes to Seattle voters in August, and even in a “green” city, the outcome isn’t certain. “You have to be really tone-deaf to what’s going on to think that the economic climate is not going to affect people,” Rob Gala, a legislative aide to the city councilman who first sponsored the bill, told the New York Times.