February 17, 2011
Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill to ban single-use plastic bags statewide.
If passes, SB536 would be the first state ban of plastic bags at all retail stores. The bill also calls for retailers to charge 5 cents for each recycled paper bag a shopper requests, and the retailers will be allowed to keep the revenue, according to a report by the Associated Press and Suite 101.com.
Retailers pay approximately 5 cents or more for paper bags compared to the cheaper plastic bags that cost them a penny or two a piece, which raises some economic business concerns around the bill.
Another difficult issue is the number of people that work in the paper industry, according to Jon Isaacs, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. "There are over 2,000 Oregonians employed in the paper bag manufacturing industry. Not one single plastic bag is produced here."
Opponents of the bill worry that such a bill could lead to more future fees and bans on packaging and consumer materials, and would instead prefer to see continued development of recycling options.
GRD Views: It will be interesting to see if the Oregon bill passes and if other states and cities will follow suit. Our understanding is that Los Angeles and Santa Monica have already passed similar bills that take effect later this year. -- John Failla for Green Retail Decisions