PORTLAND – Portland City Council members unanimously voted to expand the city's plastic bag ban during their meeting Thursday afternoon.
The expansion means that more retailers, including food carts, restaurants and farmers markets will be required to get rid of plastic bags and instead use paper or recyclable products. The changes will take effect in phases, based on the size of the businesses.
Retailers larger than 10,000 square-feet will be required to make the switch by March 1, 2013. All others have until October 1, 2013 to change over.
The stores can choose to charge customers for paper bags.
Supporters of the proposal aimed to reduce the number of plastic bags that are taking up landfill space or polluting natural environments.
"I'm very pleased. This is a huge step forward," Mayor Sam Adams said.
The Northwest Grocery Association said it supported the proposal, but also wanted to see a nickel per-paper-bag fee, to help stores pay for the added cost. That part of the proposal was not approved Thursday.
The City of Portland had already banned plastic for the city's largest retailers and pharmacies, including grocery chains Safeway, Fred Meyer and also Target.
Mayor Adams tweeted the news Thursday. The tweet was accompanied by a photo from the council meeting that showed him posing with activists dressed as plastic bag monsters. Adams said the ordinance was necessary to keep plastic bags out of rivers and oceans, and to prevent them from jamming the machinery at recycling centers.
Caption: Mayor Sam Adams poses with men covered in plastic bags, calling themselves "The Bag Monsters," who attended the meeting.
KGW Reporter Tim Gordon contributed to this report