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Oregon Stores Begin To Prepare For Plastic Bag Ban

Lucilia Cejas

Oregon’s statewide plastic bag ban takes effect on Jan. 1, and some cities around the state have already begun to make changes.

Chester’s Thriftway in John Day has already stopped providing plastic bags for its customers.

“We quit ordering roughly about two weeks ago and we have transitioned to using only paper bags and offering our customers the option to purchase reusable bags,” store manager Robert Hunt said.

Store employees have been educating shoppers about the 5 cent paper bag fee by handing out flyers during check out. The store is also offering other options for reusable bags.

“We will have options for all of our customers to purchases bags. We went all the way down to I think like two for a $1 bags all the way to up $4.99 bags,” Hunt said. “We have a pretty good option for our customers to choose from.”

Other grocery stores like Market Place Family Foods in La Grande have started their own recycling program, where customers bring in their used plastic or paper bags and leave them at the store for others to use.

Store employee Marco Rennie said they are also looking for a heavier cloth-like bag that customers can purchase and consistently reuse.

House Bill 2509 which was signed into law during the summer, prohibits retail stores and restaurants from providing single-use checkout bags. They must also charge at least 5 cents per paper bag with more then 40% or more post-consumer recycled content.

Hunt said some customers are upset about the fee, but most understand that it is now state law.

“I know a lot of our customers already reuse the plastic bags that they get when they go shopping either in their house for their little trash cans, maybe in bathrooms or even in their vehicles,” Hunt said.  

Shawn Miller with the Northwest Grocery Association said the statewide policy is intended to encourage people to start using reusable bags. The 5 cent fee will go back to the store and help balance out the cost of switching to reusable paper bags.

“Plastic bags are so much cheaper than the recycled paper bags. It doesn’t cover the cost between the difference in those two bags, but it helps make sure grocery costs aren’t going to increase because of the cost shift when you ban plastic,” Miller said.

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