The Bend City Council repealed a local plastic bag ban Wednesday night to allow the state’s ban to take over.
Last month, the idea to repeal the local law was floated as a way to eliminate confusion between the local law — which started July 1 — and the state law slated to begin in January.
With the repeal now in effect, local retailers will no longer be officially required to charge 10 cents for paper bags. Because the city had a grace period between July 1 to Jan. 1 anyway, any stores that didn’t start charging for bags yet won’t be punished.
The lack of clarity around what law is being enforced — and when — has caused confusion in some local grocery stores, Councilor Justin Livingston said. “Maybe while well-intentioned, maybe the education period should come before the effective date,” he said.
The City Council in December established an ordinance to ban plastic grocery bags in Bend after months of lobbying from a community group and middle school students.
But with the state’s ban set to start in less than six months, the city decided it would make more sense to have the state’s largely similar law take over.
The state law, signed by Gov. Kate Brown on June 20, dictates that all retail establishments will not be allowed to provide single-use plastic bags, but allows retailers to provide recycled paper bags, reusable heavy plastic bags, or reusable fabric bags for a charge of at least 5 cents per bag.
Bend’s ordinance, however, focused more on grocery stores and set the minimum price for alternative bags at 10 cents.
But some residents, like Mary Ellen Coulter, spoke against the repeal, arguing that this action would eliminate the momentum started by the local ban. She also felt like one of the main conflicts — the 5-cent difference in price for paper bags — is easily resolved.
“I think since we’ve already made the decision, why don’t we just stick to it … and see if we can figure out charging a nickel or a dime,” she said.
While supportive of the repeal, Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell was sympathetic to concerns that the repeal could be a hiccup in the town’s momentum to remember reusable bags.
“It’s a little unfortunate it just went into effect. … I’ve already seen people adjusting,” said Goodman-Campbell.
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