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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Single-use Plastic Bag Ban

Plastic bags are banned at retailers in Portland

Plastic single-use bags cannot be provided by retailers or food vendors at customer check-out.

Exceptions are made only for prescription medication, and bags without handles that are used to protect one item from another – for example, produce, bulk food, or meat.

What you can use instead are:

  • paper bags made from at least 40% recycled content;
  • reusable cloth bags; or
  • reusable plastic bags that are at least 4 mil thick and have handles.

The reason for the ban is two-fold:

Paper and reusable bags are allowed1) Lightweight plastic bags frequently wrap around sorting machinery at recycling facilities, causing the equipment to jam. The machinery then must be manually cleared, accounting for almost a third of labor costs at the facilities and increased risk of staff injuries.

2) Because they are extremely lightweight, plastic bags can act like balloons blowing out of garbage trucks and landfills. These flyaway bags litter our open spaces, enter storm drains, and can eventually end up in rivers and oceans.  They break down into small, toxic pieces that are consumed by wildlife and aquatic animals.

Find more details about the ban at Portland City Code Chapter 17.103 Single-Use Plastic Checkout Bags or view the Portland 2012 Plastic Bag Ordinance.

For other assistance and information, or to register a complaint about use of foam containers, plastic bags, or single-use plastics, contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability:
Solid Waste and Recycling Hotline, 503-823-7202

Need to safely recycle plastic bags? Check Metro’s online search tool:

Read about the new Single-Use Plastics Policy, effective October 1, 2019.