Portland merchants prepare for bag ban
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Portland's ban on single-use plastic bags take effect on Saturday.
Merchants are preparing as Portland’s plastic bag ban takes effect Saturday, an event to be ushered in with free reusable bags distribution with Mayor Sam Adams and volunteers.
Target, Walmart and Walgreens will be supplying reusable bags to consumers during inaugural ban day giveaways, according to Amy Ruiz, the mayor’s communications director.
Fred Meyer stores, which supported the ban during its incubation stage, took plastic bags out of its 10 Portland retail outlets in August 2010 in anticipation of the law.
“We just feel like this is a train that left the station,” said Melinda Merrill, director of public affairs for Fred Meyer.
Portland’s ban on plastic bags was approved by the City Council in July and places restrictions on plastic bags at retailer checkout stands. The approval followed roughly a year of debate and a failed attempt at a statewide ban during 2011 deliberations of the Oregon Legislature.
Beginning Saturday, the measure requires retailers to use only recycled paper bags, compostable plastic bags or reusable bags when checking out customers. It targets stores that gross more than $2 million in annual income and allows exceptions for plastic bags for produce, meat and bulk foods. Plastic-wielding violators would pay $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense in the same calendar year and $500 for any subsequent violation within a year.
Aiming to ease the transition for consumers, merchants will be offering free reusable bags around Portland, distributed by a contingent of City Hall volunteers. Amy Ruiz, communications director for Adams, said the mayor will appear at the Walgreens at 1620 N.E. Grand Ave. between 12:30 and 1:15 p.m. Saturday to personally distribute reusable bags as well. Walmart will distribute 2,000 free bags at its store at 4200 S.E. 82nd Ave. in Portland. Giveaways are also expected at local Target stores.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon
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