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:
1) 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.
Need to safely recycle plastic bags? Check Metro’s online search tool: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/garbage-and-recycling/find-a-recycler.