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Single-Use Bag Ban Goes Into Effect - What Cities Should Know

A new law went into effect January 1, 2020 which creates a statewide ban on single-use plastic checkout bags for restaurants and retail establishments. The law also regulates the use of recycled paper bags and reusable plastic or fabric bags. Cities should be aware of the new law, as businesses and citizens may have questions. In addition, cities should be aware of specific preemptions that were included in this legislation, HB 2509.

Requirements for restaurants: HB 2509 prohibits restaurants from providing single-use checkout bags to customers. The bill also bans restaurants from providing reusable plastic checkout bags to customers unless the restaurant charges a minimum of 5 cents to the customer for bag. HB 2509 defines single-use checkout bags as any bag made of paper, plastic or any other material that is provided by a retail establishment to a customer at the time of checkout, and that is not a recycled paper checkout bag, a reusable fabric checkout bag or a reusable plastic checkout bag. A restaurant can provide a recycled paper bag at no cost to the customer or may provide a reusable plastic bag (at no cost) if a customer uses an electronic benefits transfer card issued by the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Requirements for retail establishments: HB 2509 prohibits retail establishments (defined as a store that offers goods for sale but that is not a restaurant) from providing recycled paper bags, reusable fabric checkout bags, or reusable plastic checkout bags to customers unless the retail establishment charges at least 5 cents for each recycled paper, reusable fabric, or reusable plastic checkout bags. Retail establishments may provide, as a promotion, reusable fabric checkout bags at no cost to customers on 12 or fewer days in a calendar year. There are also exceptions which allow for free recycled paper bags or reusable plastic bags for customers who are registered for certain food assistance programs.

Other exceptions: The ban does not apply to bags that are provided for bulk purchase items (e.g. fruit, vegetables, unwrapped bakery or prepared food items, nuts, grains, small hardware items, etc.). The ban also does not apply to bags used to contain or wrap frozen food, meat, fish, flowers or prescription drugs. Dry cleaning bags, laundry bags, pet waste collection bags, newspaper bags and door hanger bags are also excluded from the ban.

Impacts to cities/other local governments: HB 2509 does include preemption language that cities should be aware of. It is important for cities that may have already implemented a local ban to work with their city attorney to ensure that all definitions and local requirements conform the bill’s language. HB 2509 specifically authorizes cities and other local governments to adopt local provisions so long as they are identical to the definitions, requirements, and restrictions in the bill. If a local provision was in effect prior to the effective date of HB 2509 (January 1, 2020), the bill authorizes a city or local government to amend that local provision in order to ensure that the definitions, requirements and restrictions are identical to the language in the bill. While HB 2509 does not appear to require cities with pre-existing local provisions to amend those provisions in order to match-up with the bill’s language, the bill does preempt a city or local government from adopting or enforcing a local provision with definitions, requirements or restrictions that are not identical to those contained in the bill. There are two exceptions to the local preemption included in HB 2509:  First, a city, or other local government may adopt, amend, or enforce a locally adopted penalty that differs from the penalty for a violation established by HB 2509, but may not impose both penalties. Second, a city, or other local government, may require a restaurant or retail establishment to charge a fee of more than the 5 cents that can be charged to restaurant customers for reusable plastic checkout bags or to retail establishments for recycled paper bags, reusable fabric bags or reusable plastic checkout bags.

Contact: Tracy Rutten, Lobbyist – trutten@orcities.org

Last Updated 1/3/20

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