On June 12, 2019, Oregon became the third state to pass statewide legislation banning single-use carryout plastic bags. Through the strong support of an alliance of business, environmental and waste-management professionals, Oregon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative (House Bill 2509) passed the Senate and went to the Governor’s office for signing. With the inclusion of restaurants, Oregon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative is on this date the most comprehensive bag ban policy in the nation. The ban represents a significant plastic pollution victory for our ocean and beaches.
Under the bill, stores may not offer thin plastic bags at checkout but may offer recycled paper bags with a minimum 5 cent pass-through charge. The charge incentivizes the public to bring their own bags and also helps smaller retail shops cover the cost of the more expensive paper. This policy approach has been established in hundreds of cities around the country and has proven highly effective when analyzed as a statewide policy. The bill covers all retail establishments and restaurants in Oregon. Participants in food-assistance programs are exempt from the pass-through charge, and customers who bring their own reusable bags will also not pay any charge.
On the date the bill passed, Charlie Plybon, Oregon Policy Manager for the Surfrider Foundation, stated, “The passage of the Sustainable Shopping Initiative makes Oregon a national leader in the fight to protect our environment from plastic pollution. This is an important step for protecting our environment while encouraging an Oregon ethos for shopping with reusable bags.”
Two months before Oregon “banned the bag,” the City of Newport passed a similar ordinance. The Newport Oregon Chapter of Surfrider Foundation worked with the local Sam Case Elementary Surfrider Club to ask the Newport City Council to pass this ordinance, and City Council responded to the needs of the people and of our world.
After passage of the ordinance, Newport Surfrider worked with various organizations in the city to distribute reusable bags to thousands of residents.
We applaud both the City of Newport and the State of Oregon. We have a reputation to uphold in our city and in our state, and our representatives in government have lived up to that reputation.