Oregon Legislature will consider bill to limit use of plastic bags statewide

For Immediate Release

Salem- Flanked by young people and environmental groups, Representative Carla Piluso (HD-50), Representative Janeen Sollman (HD-30), and Representative Chris Gorsek (HD-49) shared the details of the “Sustainable Shopping Initiative,” House Bill 2509, which would build off of the 16 existing local ordinances already in place in Oregon to address plastic pollution and recycling contamination due to plastic bags.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it’s simply a shame to see plastic bags contaminating the waterways, fields and beaches around the state,” said Representative Piluso. “It’s past time for us to take statewide action to prevent the damage plastic does to wildlife, our environment, and our economy.”

“Plastic bags are one of the top items we found on beach and highway cleanups in Oregon,” said Charlie Plybon the Oregon Policy Manager with Surfrider Foundation. “They blow in the environment and into our oceans, where they persist for lifetimes entangling and poisoning marine life.”

So far, cities in Oregon have taken the lead on addressing plastic pollution issues, but proponents of the Sustainable Shopping Initiative make the case that it’s time for a statewide approach.

“Cities have been acting on their own ordinances for many years now, and we have an opportunity to provide much needed uniformity and predictability to businesses across this state,” said Representative Sollman.

The City of Lake Oswego is one of the most recent cities in Oregon to pass a local ordinance restricting the use of plastic bags—their ordinance passed in December 2018.

“We are very proud of the strict plastic bag ordinance that we passed in Lake Oswego,” said Jenny Slepian, the Sustainability and Management Analyst with the City of Lake Oswego. “The widespread community support for our ordinance shows that Oregonians are ready for statewide action on reducing single use plastics.”

“It’s important to my constituents that we make substantive changes to reduce our impact onto the environment,” said Representative Chris Gorsek. “For the municipalities that I represent; the hope is that we can be consistent so that the businesses that serve our community can comply with certainty.”

Because of action taken locally across the state, nearly 40% of Oregonians already live in a city with a plastic bag ordinance.

“The Northwest Grocery Association supports the passage of HB 2509, which creates a sustainable shopping policy in the State of Oregon,” said Shawn Miller with the Northwest Grocery Association. “This policy represents a win-win for the environmental and business communities by reducing the use of single-use plastic and promoting the use of reusable bags and mirrors most local ordinances that combine a plastic bag ban with a required pass through fee for recyclable paper bags, which has been successful in shifting consumer behavior towards reusable bags.”

The Sustainable Shopping Initiative is designed to reduce plastic pollution and encourage Oregonians to use reusable bags.

“Nothing we use for ten minutes should pollute the environment for hundreds of years,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, the State Director with Environment Oregon. “The passage of the sustainable shopping initiative will make Oregon a national leader in the fight against the plastic pollution that threatens wildlife and our environment.”

Not only are plastic bags harmful for the environment, but they pose a real financial burden on Oregon recyclers as well.

“The Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR) supports House Bill 2509 to advance waste prevention and reduce the impact of plastic shopping bags on Oregon's recycling system,” said Ali Briggs-Ungerer the Chair of the Association of Oregon Recyclers. “Plastic bags placed in home and business recycling bins get tangled in the equipment used to sort and process materials. This poses hazards to workers and costly disruptions at recycling facilities when equipment has to be turned off to remove bags. HB 2509 also supports waste reduction by encouraging shoppers to use reusable bags.”

“As a legislative body, we have a unique opportunity to cement this policy into law and do our part as Oregonians to protect our beautiful environment and support our local businesses,” said Sollman.

House Bill 2509, The Sustainable Shopping Initiative, will be up for a public hearing in the House Committee on Energy and Environment today at 1pm.

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