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Oregon Passes Most Comprehensive Plastic Bag Ban in the Country

Oregon is 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 on 6/11/2019 and as of today is headed to the Governor's office for signing. With the inclusion of restaurants, Oregon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative is set to be the most comprehensive bag ban policy in the nation and represents a significant plastic pollution victory for our ocean and beaches.

Under the bill, stores may no longer 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.

“The passage of the Sustainable Shopping Initiative makes Oregon a national leader in the fight to protect our environment from plastic pollution,”  said Charlie Plybon, Oregon Policy Manager with the Surfrider Foundation. “This is an important step for protecting our environment while encouraging an Oregon ethos for shopping with reusable bags.”

The Surfrider Foundation Oregon Chapters applaud the leadership of Representative Janeen Sollman (HD-30) in addressing this issue, and appreciate all of the votes in support from legislators around the state. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Kate Brown for signature, and we call upon her for her swift passage and continued environmental leadership on this issue.