Plastic bag ban approaches


Reusable bags will be necessary as law goes into effect Jan. 1

Nov. 30, 2019 — Consumers will notice a major difference when checking out at all stores and restaurants in Oregon, beginning Jan. 1, 2020. That is the date HB 2509, “The Sustainable Shopping Initiative,” takes effect, which prohibits retailers from providing single-use check-out bags to consumers for their purchases.

Oregon now joins California, Connecticut, Maine, New York and Vermont in passing some form of statewide plastic bag restriction policy.

The new law places restrictions on the types of check-out bags retailers and restaurants may provide. HB 2509 will require retailers to charge a fee of at least five cents for providing sustainable bags at point of purchase.

The new rules also codify the ban on a statewide basis, making it easier for businesses to comply with the updated requirements.

“With so many city ordinances currently in place, we heard overwhelmingly that uniformity and predictability for businesses across this state was critical,” said the bill’s chief sponsor Rep. Janeen Sollman. 

The fee will be charged at the time of checkout if consumers do not bring their own reusable bags or wish to use recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags or reusable fabric bags provided by the retailer.

The goal of the new regulations is to encourage consumers to switch to reusable or recycled paper bags, primarily to help reduce the number of bags that are used once and then thrown away. When plastic bags enter the recycle stream it can contaminates the stream and endanger the safety of workers who must untangle the bags from recycling equipment.

The ban on single-use plastic is also a step in the direction of limiting the large amounts of plastic entering the ocean which dramatically impacts sea life.

Consumers that do not bring a reusable bag to carry their purchases from the store to the car can expect to pay a small fee at the register. This fee helps businesses to offset the costs associated with providing more sustainable bags to their customers.

There are fines associated with the new single-use bag legislation which come into play with violations of HB 2509. A violation is considered a Class D violation subject to a maximum fine of $250. Each day a retailer or restaurant commits a violation they are subject to an additional citation and fine.

There are some exceptions to the new law and there are some bags provided to customers that are not subject to the restrictions in HB 2509:

  • Bags designed to hold bulk items such as small hardware or for sanitary or privacy purposes.
  • Specialty bags such as dry cleaning or garment bags.
  • Bags sold in packages for use as food storage, garbage or pet waste.

Retailers may also provide for free acceptable bags for customers who use a WIC voucher or an Electronic benefit transfer card (EBT).

There are some reporting requirements attached to HB 2509 for retailers. By Sept. 15, 2024, grocers must provide the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) with information on collection of bag fees and customers usage of recycled paper, reusable fabric, and reusable plastic checkout bags.

DEQ must submit a report to the legislature by Sept. 15, 2025, delineating these totals.

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