What is the Single-Use Bag Law?

House Bill (HB) 2509, passed in the 2019 Oregon legislative session, prohibits retail stores and restaurants from providing single-use checkout bags to customers, and places restrictions on other checkout bags they may provide. The ban goes into effect on January 1, 2020. After that, a retail store or restaurant may provide only reusable or recycled paper checkout bags to customers. In certain cases, they must charge a fee to the customer for providing the bag. The new law repeals ORS 459A.695, which required retail stores providing plastic checkout bags to offer paper bags as an alternative.

Why is this Initiative Important?

By encouraging the switch to reusable or recycled paper bags, Oregon can reduce the amounts of single-use bags that are used and thrown out, while addressing a significant problem for Oregon’s recycling programs: plastic bags. When plastic bags end up in recycling bins, the can contaminate the recycling stream and endanger the safety of workers who must untangle them from recycling equipment. this is also a positive first step towards addressing the large amount of plastic debris in the oceans, which threatens Oregon’s marine wildlife.

What does this mean for consumers?

For consumers who do not bring reusable bags expect to pay a small fee that the register. This fee helps offset the cost businesses pay to purchase more sustainable bags. This fee can vary by store and city/county. Some bags, such as those for bulk items and privacy purchases, are not covered Retail stores and restaurants may provide certain reusable bags for free to customers using a WIC voucher or electronic benefits transfer card.

What do businesses and local governments need to know?

After January 1, 2020, businesses can no longer provide single-use bags and must charge a fee for certain types of reusable bags.

Definitions:

  • Single-use checkout bag: A bag made of paper, plastic, or other material that is provided to a customer at the time of checkout, and that does not meet the definition of recycled paper checkout bag, reusable fabric checkout bag, or reusable plastic checkout bag.
  • Reusable Plastic Checkout Bag: A bag with handles, designed and manufactured to be used multiple times, and is made of durable plastic that is at least 4 mils thick.
  • Reusable Fabric Checkout Bag: A bag with handles, designed and manufactured to be used multiple times, and made of cloth or other machine-washable fabric.
  • Recycled Paper Checkout Bag: A paper bag made of at least 40% post-consumer recycled fiber.