A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Plastic bags: A few weeks left to stock up

Written November 12th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Obviously plastic shopping  bags have more than a single use, but the Salem busybodies didnt care.

Only about six weeks are left before single-use plastic checkout bags are banned in Oregon. Better stock up while you can. Because soon you’re going to have to buy substitutes for all the uses for which you now get plastic bags free.

House Bill 2509 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The law says retailers can’t give you a single-use bag. But for a nickel each, they can sell you as many recycled paper bags or “reusable plastic checkout bags” as you want.

Why tell retailers in private business what they must charge for certain items? But this is not the only example of legislative overreach in this new Oregon law. For instance, the law “allows” retailers to give away “reusable fabric checkout bags” without charge as a promotion, but only on up to 12 days a year and no more.

The law requires retailers to submit reports to the government of customers’ use of recycled paper bags and reusable other bags. Maybe this means that in addition to checking groceries, checkers will have to compile daily reports on how many customers used how many bags of which type.

And in case this all proves too much trouble and people ignore the details of this imposition on everybody’s time and habits, maybe the next thing is to have inspectors going around to serve as the bag police.

The irony is probably lost on the legislators, mostly Democrats, who voted for this, but the law really is not necessary in order to phase out plastic shopping bags. Kroger announced last year that all its chains of supermarkets, including Fred Meyer, would phase out plastic bags on their own. If that’s what customers want, other chains would follow suit.

But the busybodies in Salem wanted to be in a position to tell people what to do, even if it means specifying how many days a store can offer you a free bag. (hh)

33 responses to “Plastic bags: A few weeks left to stock up”

  1. Bob Zybach says:

    This is why I stopped voting several years ago. The Portland Democrats have overtaken Oregon politics and it is nonsense such as this that demonstrates the incredible “political power” these elected officials have. What a waste of taxpayer funding — unless, of course, voters turn these time-and-money wasters out to pasture the next election. Won’t happen. Votes don’t matter. The evidence is overwhelming, and plastic bag regulations are just one more example. Your legislature at “work.”

    • Josh Mason says:

      The irony is the amount of complaining and self victimization here. The reason for the plastic bag ban isn’t complicated nor is it political. Single use plastics come at a stupendous cost to the planet despite their ubiquity, availability, convenience and myriad of uses. When it comes to managing their own waste and sustainably managing the environment, most people everywhere fail. Humans produce more than 2.1 billion tons of garbage every year, enough to fill 822,000 olympic-size swimming pools. More than half of that ends up in the environment every year after year after year. Americans are worse than most at this due to our much higher individual consumption rates than other countries. In truth, the United States is the world’s most wasteful country. Americans account for only about 4 percent of the world’s population yet generate 12 percent of the planet’s garbage. Each American produces more than 1,700 pounds of it a year, adding up to 239 million tons annually. We are first and at the top of developed nations when it comes to individual consumption. We generate more than three times the amount of waste that Chinese do. The US is the only developed nation whose waste generation outstrips its ability to recycle, underscoring a shortage of political will and investment in infrastructure. Americans lack serious commitment when it comes to offsetting our waste footprint. Globally, we suck when it comes to managing waste streams, rates of recycling, modes of collection and disposal, promotion of circular material flows, and commitment to international treaties. Any reduction in single use plastics is ultimately a step in the right direction and we still have our freedom.

      • Patricia E. Kight says:

        I’ve been using reusable cloth shopping bags and some really cool little mesh bags bought on Amazon for produce shopping for a few years now. On the rare occasion when I forget to return the bags to my car after unpacking them in the kitchen, I just buy another at the checkstand.

      • Terry Fuston says:

        Check your facts. China has overtaken America when is comes to waste and pollution.

  2. Katherine says:

    I lived without them before they were even available in stores.
    I can live without them again.
    I’ve had reusable grocery bags for years.
    No big whoop

    • Ray Kopczynski says:


      • Bob Zybach says:

        The “big whoop” is the enormous taxpayer expense in having these elected officials wasting time and money on this nonsense. They do have better things to do, and this isn’t it. More proof that our system is failing, in my opinion.

        • Mica Hawk says:

          The average plastic bag is used for just 12 minutes, but it typically takes 450 years to break down.

          • Bob Zybach says:

            Not sure of the source of your numbers, Mica, or even what constitutes an “average plastic bag,” but assuming the numbers are in the ballpark somewhere, the question then becomes: “so what?” Maybe the problem then becomes how to repurpose them or properly dispose of them for a few centuries. The markets can probably deal with that, too.

            I’m guessing you’re not old enough to remember when cans and bottles lined many of our highways until deposits became mandatory. Yes, the problem was resolved through government regulations and by taxpayer and consumer funding, but the big difference is that we still use cans and bottles — but mostly without the unsightly littering that used to widely exist.

  3. Mac says:

    good riddance to bad rubbish

  4. Carol spulnik says:

    This is totally stupid. The lines will be really long now when every one takes out their collected produce, and the clerk has to separate it at the cashier station, and weigh each group of veggies or fruit. Then put them back collectively in the customers brought in paper/plastic bag.

  5. I hate government says:

    Fire them all!

  6. J. Jacobson says:

    The irony seems lost on Hering as well. Even the grocery giant, Kroger, sees the importance of eliminating the plastic pestilence wherever possible. Yet, the import of the Kroger policy is lost on Hering. His reactionary view: that saving the planet is a political game rather than a struggle to save what we have. Now that’s ironic.

    • Jon Stratton says:

      The point he makes in his article is that the market will do it, anyway. This is evidenced by the fact that Kroger did it. We don’t need to waste money on this legislation when the market is already taking care of the problem.

  7. John Allen says:

    I experienced a ban on plastic bags when I lived in Corvallis. Hasso referred to one problem above in that they have other uses, such as lining garbage cans. Those who do so will be forced to buy plastic bags, partially subverting the intent of the ban. Another problem not mentioned above is that in order to pay the cashier (at Winco at least) for paper bags you have to accurately estimate how many you would need before bagging your groceries.

  8. Rhea Graham says:

    Had we been using hemp for paper and plastics, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. Greed will cause the ruination of this great Earth. Do you know the history of Cannabis Prohibition? Four men totally messed this country (and all others) over. Learn it, it will really irritate you and make you want to instigate change!

  9. Terry says:

    Get government OUT of our daily lives.
    I’ll be delivering the morsels from my cat box directly to the capitol!

  10. Craigz says:

    Some of this you pointed out. Many of us re-use those plastic bags and when gone, we will need to buy….plastic bags. Bags that used petroleum products to produce. Some will get littered. The end result….not much difference. I worked for Fred Meyer years ago when they charged for paper bags (I ordered them by the millions-high cost). Customers complained so they stopped. Now the State mandates the charge per bag. The consumer will get mad at the retailer not the store. State regulates when a retailer can give out re-usable bags….crazy ! Lastly, now stores are worried about bacteria brought into their stores and onto the check out counter from home brought re-usable bags. Government…trying to fix one issue and creates many more.

  11. Jon Stratton says:

    Luckily, you can still buy super-cheap “single use” plastic bags from China and just take them with you to the store. I love the Internet.

  12. Bill Kapaun says:

    I suggest people start presenting legislators with balloons.
    You know, single use plastic bags full of your breath.

  13. Delfina Herrera Hoxie says:

    Really? This is a non-issue. I realize change is difficult for some but what a waste of time complaining about something so small. We keep our reusable bags in the trunk of the car. Plastic bags are dangerous to the planet and animals. You think they are free, they are not. They spoil the land and kill animals. Change or die. Use hemp instead.

  14. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Just another step towards eco-fascism, where an extreme and intolerant government does not own businesses outright, but dictates what those businesses can make, do and sell.

    And it’s getting to the point where what you think and say about the environment will be controlled by government. Get in line and do what you’re told.

    It won’t be long, Hasso. The jackboots are coming for your blog….

  15. centrist says:

    Much ado about not much.
    Folks adapted to plastic bags, then found secondary uses.
    Some of the reactions border on addicted withdrawal.
    Recover and adapt

  16. Tony Landa says:

    It’s not so black-and-white. Some businesses, especially supermarkets, NEED government to help level the playing field. The market punishes those who do the right thing. A customer who demands their free plastic bags will take their anger out on the innocent 17-year-old checkout clerk and find another place to shop. With a law, the business can do the right thing without losing competitive advantage, and point to the “bad-guy” government if anyone complains. Everyone, including me, likes when businesses and the market do the right thing, but why suddenly now? It’s simple, environmentalists grew a pair and started demanding lawmakers pass laws.

  17. Tina says:

    Oh darn now I got to find another way to pick up my dog’s poop!

  18. Pauly says:

    I think the irony is lost on all those who use the internet to post comments about saving the environment. But alas, never mind the environmental cost of the food that goes into those nasty little single use plastic grocery bags.

  19. Lundy says:

    This is all very basic: Reusing bags whenever possible is pretty much always good, and government overreach is pretty much always bad.
    One other point to ponder as you buy those groceries: Collectively, we waste about a third of all the food we produce.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Who’s”we”? As for me, I bought a pie yesterday and doing my damnedest to eat it all…

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Bob, I’m not sure what point your point to ponder is trying to make about reusable bags. But your observation on government overreach is a good one.

      I can see it now – The Supply & Eat Responsibly Act of 2020 – an Oregon act to decrease waste (and loss) of food. No doubt a new tax will be involved that will be collected at the cash register of every store.

      Make em’ pay for loss/waste in the supply chain that is recycled to non-food use. Make em’ pay for loss/waste in the supply chain that happens prior to retailing and consumption.

      And who is em’? Why middle/lower class folks and retirees. Folks like Hasso who probably won’t eat the whole pie. That’s who. As always.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Sorry, I called you Bob, but you are probably Steve. I’ll let you correct my mistake.

        P.S. If you are Steve, I was sorry to see you leave the ADH when I lived in Albany. You were a good reporter. Fair and balanced.

        • Lundy says:

          Gordon, no problem. Yes, this is Steve. Bob is my son, former DH/GT sports writer. I was sorry to see me leave the DH also, but I needed to leave before I ended up bitter, laid off or both.


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