EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- An Oregon-based grocery chain will stop offering plastic bags at the checkout stand when its current supply runs out in a few weeks.
Customers of the chain, which has stores in Eugene, Ashland, Portland and West Linn, will have access to plastic bags in the produce and meat departments.
"I think it was a timing thing," Market of Choice recycling coordinator Michael Scott told The Register-Guard newspaper. "Looking at our stock of bags, and kind of what's going on in the rest of the country -- with San Francisco and Seattle making some difficult decisions -- it was time to be proactive about it."
Scott was referring to San Francisco's ban on plastic bags and Seattle's plan to impose a 20-cent fee for each paper and plastic bag used by customers at grocery and drug stores.
Market of Choice is not the only grocery chain eliminating plastic. Whole Foods, for example, ditched the plastic option earlier this year at all 270 of its stores in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom.
"We're not the first (to discontinue plastic bag use), but we hope others will follow," Scott said.
Market of Choice has its own reusable bags for sale. The 99-cent bags hold about double the groceries of a plastic bag and are touted to last for about three years. Customers may also opt for the store's standard paper bags at no charge.
Scott said the cost of plastic bags, which are petroleum-based, has risen with the price of oil. But he noted they remain cheaper than paper bags, and said cost was not a factor in the chain's decision.
Plastic and paper grocery bags can both be recycled. But while 52 percent of paper bags are recycled in the United States, only 5 percent of plastic bags are, the Earth Resources Foundation, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., said earlier this year.
Plastic grocery bags are not biodegradable, and they pose hazards to marine life when they enter rivers, lakes and oceans.