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)