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Bend plastic bags ban heads to council for vote


Bend is one step closer to banning stores from handing out single-use plastic bags.

Thursday was the last work session of a Bend City Council subcommittee before the proposal is presented to the full council on Dec. 5.

Since the last meeting in early October, city staff found that if passed, implementing the plastic bag ban would cost Bend around $15,000.

That’s money going toward public outreach, ad campaigns and staff time. On Thursday, the conversation focused on language used in the ordinance.

Councilors asked that instead of the word ‘ban’, the words ‘limited use’ be used. Also ‘carry out’ is replacing ‘single use.’ All these details are important, so customers and retailers can adjust to changes as best as possible.

City Senior Policy Analyst Gillian Ockner said this is just the start of an effort to get more of the community used to bringing their own bags to shop.

“I think the intent of the committee at this stage is to make a first step, begin the conversation with the community about converting to reusable bags, work with retail establishments to make that happen and do that in a way that has as low as impact as possible,” Ockner said.

This isn’t new to Oregon, as nine other cities have already put plastic bag bans in place.

If Bend follows suit, retailers will not be allowed to give customers carry-out plastic bags unless they are of a certain thickness.

So a customer will need to either bring their own reusable bags or buy a reusable bag from the store for no less than 10 cents.

“A very, very thin plastic is more likely to blow in the wind and get into our waterways. The second concern is a very lightweight plastic is less likely to be used again,” Ockner said. So there may still be concerns with a heavier weight plastic getting into a contaminating recyclables.”

City staff said if passed, they’ll reevaluate the plan two years down the road, to see if heavier-weight plastic bags should be banned as well.

Another issue that might come up is plastic bags vs. paper.

Plastic takes far longer to break down, but paper takes more water to make, as well as taking up more space — which means more trucks on the road.

If this ordinance is approved, it wouldn’t take effect until July 1, 2019 and wouldn’t be enforced until Jan. 1, 2020, under the current proposal.

Fines for breaking the rules would be a maximum of $400 per infraction.

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