Plastic bag bans are a mixed bag, and Bend’s handling of its ordinance is truly garbage.
The latest wrinkle: The city of Bend recommended stores not follow it.
That may only make things harder on retailers.
Bend’s ordinance was mostly aimed at giving people a firm nudge away from using cheap plastic bags and toward reusable bags or paper bags. It essentially banned single-use bags and set the minimum charge for alternative bags at 10 cents.
New regulations always come with unforeseen consequences. The problems with Bend’s ban were foreseen.
Councilor Justin Livingston had pointed out the concern that a plastic bag ban may not be better for the environment. Bans may reduce nonbiodegradable waste, though switching to paper bags or cloth bags may increase greenhouse emissions. Others pointed out that a 10-cent minimum charge may be a subsidy for grocery stores. Councilor Bill Moseley said such a regulation would make much more sense at the state level. And now there is a state law. It is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1 and retailers can provide alternatives to cheap plastic bags for at least 5 cents.
The city ban and the state law have caused some confusion for shoppers. That’s to be expected and will eventually clear up. But the city’s recommendation that retailers not carry out Bend’s ban adds another layer of unnecessary confusion and hassle for retailers. “It’s a strange message to give out,” said Anne Aurand, the city’s communication director. Ain’t that the truth.
Responsible retailers have had to ramp up to comply with the city’s law. They have had to alter their bag orders, implement the charge in their systems and train staff. They are supposed to undo that and then reimplement in January? Does that make much sense? Only about as much sense as Bend’s bag. So not much.