Lawmakers Consider Statewide Plastic Bag Bans In Washington And Oregon

File photo. Washington and Oregon lawmakers are considering statewide bans on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores. CREDIT: JULIA REIHS/KUT
File photo. Washington and Oregon lawmakers are considering statewide bans on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores. CREDIT: JULIA REIHS/KUT

Read On

Lawmakers in both Oregon and Washington are considering bills that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide to reduce plastic pollution.

Right now, bills in both states would prohibit retailers from giving out single-use plastic check-out bags and require them to charge a 10-cent fee on paper bags.

Washington lawmakers have already passed two versions of the bill out of the committee. Oregon’s House Committee on Energy and Environment took up the bill on Tuesday.

A statewide law could replace local ordinances that also ban plastic bags.

Shawn Miller with the Northwest Grocers Association said his group wants to avoid a patchwork of conflicting local restrictions with 16 local governments in Oregon already having passed their own plastic bag bans and more considering the idea.

“It is time to go ahead and adopt a statewide system that is consistent,” Miller told lawmakers. “It just takes one small change in one of the local governments to cause us a lot of problems just from a business standpoint.”

Miller said his group only supports the bill as long as it includes a fee on paper bags to cover the extra cost to grocers.

But that fee is a deal-breaker for opponents with the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association who make paper bags.

“Portland was the first city to pass a plastic bag ban ten years ago,” lobbyist Paul Cosgrove told lawmakers. “It didn’t include a fee on paper, and it still does not have a fee on paper, and it’s been operating well in big stores and little stores for that 10 year period.”

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, said paper bag use in Portland increased by nearly 491 percent after the city banned plastic bags.

She and other supporters say the fee will encourage people to bring reusable bags while dramatically reducing the amount of plastic polluting waterways, harming wildlife and clogging up machinery in recycling facilities when people mistakenly put plastic bags in their recycling bins.

“We are going to see an increase in our paper bags but we want people to change their behavior,” Sollman said. “Plastics are wreaking havoc on our environment, on our land and in our waterways.”

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Related Stories:

The U.S. used to ship about 7 million tons of plastic trash to China a year, where much of it was recycled into raw materials. Then came the Chinese crackdown of 2018. CREDIT: Olivia Sun/NPR

Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It?

For years, America sold millions of tons of used yogurt cups, juice containers, shampoo bottles and other kinds of plastic trash to China to be recycled into new products. But last year the Chinese government dropped a bombshell on the world recycling business: They cut back almost all imports of trash. And now a lot of that plastic gets shipped to other countries that don’t have the capacity to recycle it or dispose of it safely. Continue Reading Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It?

I would like to support:
Welcome to the new digital home of Northwest Public Radio and Northwest Public Television. The new year brings an internal change to our organization, joining TV and radio. Together, we’re NWPB. Thank you for your continued support of public broadcasting in our region. Your support matters.
NWPR Logo
NWPB Logo
NWPTV Logo
Thanks for visiting www.nwpb.org. It looks like you might have an Ad Blocker enabled. Please whitelist www.nwpb.org to ensure that you are receiving the fully uncompromised interactive experience.

Click here for help whitelisting NWPB.org.