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Since You Asked: Plastic bag ban is across Oregon

After Jan. 1, when plastic bags are banned in Medford, will the ban concern other surrounding towns? Also, what will stores do with the leftover ones.

— Tom, Eagle Point

As a newly signed Oregon law, the discontinuation of plastic bags in the new year won’t just be limited to Medford’s checkout lines.

House Bill 2509, which dramatically restricts single-use plastic bags at checkout lines statewide, was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on June 20 after previously passing Oregon’s house 42-18 in April and Oregon’s senate 17-12 in June.

That said, it’ll likely be a bigger adjustment for shoppers in Medford or Eagle Point who are accustomed to getting a plastic bag with their purchases in contrast to cities such as Ashland and Eugene — which have had their own citywide bag bans on the law books prior to the statewide ban.

If you’re wondering how the law will impact your meat and produce at the grocery store, the good news is that it won’t. Plastic bags could still be provided to package produce, meat, bulk foods such as nuts, bakery items, frozen food, potted plants, flowers, small hardware items, greeting cards and prescription drugs,according to an earlier SYA column.

The law also allows businesses to use plastic bags to protect newspapers, laundry and dry cleaning. And yes, you’ll still be able to buy Hefty bags at the store.

As for what happens to those leftover bags that don’t make the checkout before the new year, we imagine they’ll go to store locations where checkout bans aren’t banned. California and Hawaii are the only states that have banned the bags, but there’s dozens of cities and counties that have bag bans in place.

Others will likely be recycled, according to a September SYA drawing from the Association of Plastic Recyclers, which shows Fred Meyer’s parent company Kroger recycled more than 52 million pounds of plastic in 2018 and Target recycled about 16.8 million pounds of film plastic in 2017.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Illustration by Robert Galvin