Ban on Plastic Bags, No Virgin Timber in Paper

Plastic Bags LitterThe February 8, 2011, hearing for Oregon’s Senate Bill 536 was very entertaining to say the least. From the Texan plastic manufacturer to the Washington DC chemical lobbyist and the 7-11 owner, these three opponents were significantly out numbered. The supporters of SB 536 include Senator Atkinson (R-Central Point), the timber industry, a paper bag manufacturer, paper recycler, the DEQ, Safeway, Fred Myers, and many others.

The bill was original introduced by two democrats and two republics. It is a bipartisan effort to reduce waste in the State of Oregon that is littering parks, highways, river, streams, and the ocean.

Sea of Plastic BagsThe paper manufacturing industry employs 900 people in Oregon. The plastic bag industry is non-existent in our state. The largest manufacturer is in Texas. That means many plastic bags travel thousands of miles to arrive in our stores, where paper bags only travel 110 miles in the closed loop system from cradle to cradle (paper can be recycled 7 times and no virgin timber is used). Statistics state only 4% of plastic bags are recycled where over 70% of paper is put in the bin and reused. Many of the plastic bags are sent over seas to be sorted and pelletized so they can be melted down and made into new plastic products. This process increases pollution both from the distance of transportation and by the melting process.

The opponents of the bill are focused on sanitary saying that reusable bags can contaminate food. I was truly insulted by the testimony Senator Ferrioli read from rancher Jan Kerns of eastern Oregon. The scare tactics used are laughable. Insisting that consumers don’t know how to clean reusable bags is outrageous. If you are interested in the actual wording of SB 536, read below. This only impacts those plastic bags at the check out of retail and grocery stores. Don’t worry, your free clean up bags at dog parks will not be effected, nor should the free plastic bags in the produce and meat departments.

Senate Bill 536

Sponsored by Senators HASS, ATKINSON, Representatives CANNON,
  GILLIAM (Presession filed.)

                             SUMMARY

The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the
measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to
consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's
brief statement of the essential features of the measure as
introduced.

  Prohibits use of single-use checkout bags except in certain
cases. Allows Department of Environmental Quality to impose civil
penalty. Prohibits local governments from imposing charges on
checkout bags or other bags provided to customers. Repeals
statute requiring retail establishments that offer plastic bags
to customers to also offer paper bags.
  Declares emergency, effective on passage.

                        A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to bags; creating new provisions; amending ORS 459.235
  and 459A.115; repealing ORS 459A.695; and declaring an
  emergency.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
  SECTION 1.  { + As used in sections 1 to 4 of this 2011 Act:
  (1) 'Recycled paper checkout bag' means a paper bag made by a
manufacturer whose total production of paper checkout bags in the
preceding calendar year averaged at least 40 percent recycled
fiber.
  (2)(a) 'Retail establishment' means any store in this state
that sells or offers for sale goods at retail.
  (b) 'Retail establishment' does not mean an establishment where
the primary business is the preparation of food or drink:
  (A) For consumption by the public;
  (B) In a form or quantity that is consumable then and there,
whether or not it is consumed within the confines of the place
where prepared; or
  (C) In consumable form for consumption outside the place where
prepared.
  (3) 'Reusable checkout bag' means a bag with handles that is
specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is
made of:
  (a) Cloth or other machine-washable fabric; or
  (b) Durable plastic that is at least 2.25 mils thick.
  (4)(a) 'Single-use checkout bag' means a bag made of paper,
plastic or any other material that is provided by a retail
establishment to a customer at the time of checkout.
  (b) 'Single-use checkout bag' does not mean a bag made of
paper, plastic or any other material that is provided by a retail
establishment to a customer at a time other than the time of
checkout. + }
  SECTION 2.  { + (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of
this section, a retail establishment may not provide single-use
checkout bags to customers.
  (2) A retail establishment may:
  (a) Make reusable checkout bags available for sale to
customers.
  (b) Provide reusable checkout bags at no cost to customers.
  (c) Provide recycled paper checkout bags at no cost to:
  (A) Customers who use a voucher issued under the Women, Infants
and Children Program established in the Oregon Health Authority
under ORS 409.600.
  (B) Customers who use an electronic benefits card issued by the
Department of Human Services.
  (d) Provide recycled paper checkout bags to customers if the
retail establishment charges not less than five cents for each
recycled paper checkout bag.
  (e) Provide single-use checkout bags to customers for items
marked with protected health information or other confidential
information.
  (3) The Environmental Quality Commission may adopt rules
necessary to implement sections 1 to 4 of this 2011 Act.
  (4) The Department of Environmental Quality may require a
retail establishment to provide, within a reasonable time,
information necessary to ensure compliance with this section. + }
  SECTION 3.  { + (1) The Department of Environmental Quality may
impose a civil penalty on a person for a violation of section 2
of this 2011 Act.
  (2) A civil penalty imposed under this section may not exceed
$250.
  (3) Civil penalties described in this section shall be imposed
in the manner provided in ORS 183.745.
  (4) All penalties recovered under this section shall be paid
into the State Treasury and credited to the General Fund and are
available for general governmental expenses. + }
  SECTION 4.  { + A local government, as defined in ORS 174.116,
may not impose any tax, fee, assessment, surcharge or other
charge on:
  (1) Recycled paper checkout bags;
  (2) Reusable checkout bags;
  (3) Single-use checkout bags; or
  (4) Any other bags made of paper, plastic or other material
that are provided by a retail establishment to a customer. + }
  SECTION 5.  { + ORS 459A.695 is repealed. + }
  SECTION 6. ORS 459.235 is amended to read:
  459.235. (1) Applications for permits shall be on forms
prescribed by the Department of Environmental Quality. An
application shall contain a description of the existing and
proposed operation and the existing and proposed facilities at
the site, with detailed plans and specifications for any
facilities to be constructed. The application shall include a
recommendation by each local government unit having jurisdiction
and such other information the department deems necessary in
order to determine whether the site and solid waste disposal
facilities located thereon and the operation will comply with
applicable requirements.
  (2) The Environmental Quality Commission shall establish a
schedule of fees for disposal site permits. The permit fees
contained in the schedule shall be based on the anticipated cost
of filing and investigating the application, of issuing or
denying the requested permit and of an inspection program to
determine compliance or noncompliance with the permit.
  (3) In addition to the fees imposed under subsection (2) of
this section, the commission shall establish a schedule of permit
fees for the purpose of implementing this section and ORS 90.318,
182.375, 279A.125, 279A.155, 279B.025, 279B.240, 279B.270,
279B.280, 459.005, 459.015, 459.247, 459.418, 459.995, 459A.005,
459A.010, 459A.020, 459A.030 to 459A.055, 459A.070, 459A.110,
459A.115, 459A.475, 459A.480, 459A.500 to 459A.685  { - ,
459A.695 - }  and 459A.750. The fees shall be based on the amount
of solid waste received at the disposal site.
  (4) Notwithstanding any other fee or surcharge imposed under
ORS 459.005 to 459.437 or 459A.005 to 459A.120, for the disposal
of solid waste, in order to encourage the use of suitable
material other than virgin material for daily cover at a disposal
site, the only fee that may be charged for the disposal of
substitute material that is also used for daily cover is the
permit fee established under this section.
  SECTION 7. ORS 459A.115 is amended to read:
  459A.115. (1) From January 1, 1992, to December 31, 1993, the
schedule of fees as established by the Environmental Quality
Commission under ORS 459A.110 (1) is increased by 35 cents per
ton. The portion of the fees attributable to the 35 cents per ton
increase shall be deposited into the General Fund and credited to
an account of the Department of Environmental Quality. Such
moneys are continuously appropriated to the department to
implement the provisions of this section and ORS 459.005,
459.015, 459.235, 459.247, 459.418, 459.995, 459A.005, 459A.010,
459A.020, 459A.030 to 459A.055, 459A.070, 459A.110, 459A.500 to
459A.685  { - , 459A.695 - } and 459A.750.
  (2) Beginning January 1, 1994, the schedule of fees as
established by the commission under ORS 459A.110 is increased by
31 cents per ton and shall be deposited into the General Fund and
credited to an account of the department. Such moneys are
continuously appropriated to the department to implement the
provisions described in subsection (1) of this section, excluding
ORS 459.418.
  SECTION 8.  { + (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of
this section, sections 1 to 4 of this 2011 Act, the repeal of ORS
459A.695 by section 5 of this 2011 Act and the amendments to ORS
459.235 and 459A.115 by sections 6 and 7 of this 2011 Act become
operative on November 1, 2011.
  (2) The Environmental Quality Commission may adopt rules before
the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section,
or take any other action before the operative date specified in
subsection (1) of this section, that is necessary to implement,
on or after the operative date specified in subsection (1) of
this section, sections 1 to 4 of this 2011 Act, the repeal of ORS
459A.695 by section 5 of this 2011 Act and the amendments to ORS
459.235 and 459A.115 by sections 6 and 7 of this 2011 Act.
  (3)(a) Section 4 of this 2011 Act applies to any tax, fee,
assessment, surcharge or other charge imposed before, on or after
the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section by
a local government on recycled paper checkout bags, reusable
checkout bags, single-use checkout bags and any other bags made
of paper, plastic or other material that are provided by a retail
establishment to a customer.
  (b) Paragraph (a) of this subsection does not affect any tax,
fee, assessment, surcharge or other charge imposed by a local
government on recycled paper checkout bags, reusable checkout
bags, single-use checkout bags and any other bags made of paper,
plastic or other material that are provided by a retail
establishment to a customer that became due before the operative
date specified in subsection (1) of this section. + }
  SECTION 9.  { + This 2011 Act being necessary for the immediate
preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency
is declared to exist, and this 2011 Act takes effect on its
passage. + }
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One thought on “Ban on Plastic Bags, No Virgin Timber in Paper

  1. I agree, it is an insult to justify the usage of plastic bags by claiming that people cannot keep their reusable bags clean. I have never had food poisoning, I occasionally wipe clean my reusable Kerribags. Plastic bags are terrible for the environment!

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