The Portland City Council went all in, declaring that no retailers can offer plastic bags, and all must offer paper bags. The mayor says that this is because the plastic bags get into the ocean, citing no evidence of any kind.
I don't know anybody who disposes of plastic grocery bags in a way that's gets the bags into the ocean -- unless the trash collection companies are sneaking trash containing plastic grocery bags into the ocean, and if that's the case it seems to me that the point of the solution is to deal with them. Not that I think that's what's happening.
I just wonder how it is that the grocery bags get to the ocean, as the mayor has noted. For that matter, I wonder what color the sky is in the mayor's world, and can he hear it when the butterflies blink.
Anyhow, paperbags are only somewhat recyclable and much of them end up turning into a nasty substance in permanent landfills. When they get recycled, you get paper stuff. Plastic bags are also recyclable, and require less energy to do so, and there's lots of high-value products made from the plastic. For that matter, the plastic bags could be, themselves, a product of recycling.
Anyhow, I, for one, think plastic grocery bags are superior to paper grocery bags, and I think that the Imperial City Council of Portland is populated by morons whose egos have sucked their brains dry.
But you know what?
I'd be perfectly okay with a ban on plastic bags in favor of paper bags, if the matter could be put to a vote, and the majority of us citizens voted in favor of a ban on plastic grocery bags.
In other words, the issue isn't just the relative merits of paper or plastic. The other, greater, issue, is who is the boss of you. And I've got a good idea how the city council thinks about that.