UPDATE April 21, 2020: Due to the
COVID-19 outbreak, DEQ has important information to share about the Single-Use
Oregon has not taken statewide action to
suspend the plastic bag ban, also known as HB2509, but due to supply chain
concerns, grocery stores might run out of paper bags and have to use plastic
Municipalities and local governments are the
administers of the law and can make decisions about enforcement during the
COVID-19 pandemic. We are encouraging local governments to not penalize grocers
for using plastic bags. We also encourage the public to keep using reusable
bags if they have them.
Here are some helpful resources for consumers:
Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, Oregon retail stores and restaurants can no longer provide single-use checkout bags. They also must, in most instances, charge at least five cents for paper bags (with 40% or more post-consumer recycled content), reusable plastic bags (4 mils thick) and reusable fabric bags although restaurants may still provide paper bags at no cost.
This change was approved by the 2019 Oregon Legislature, which passed the Sustainable Shopping Initiative (House Bill 2509
Under HB 2509, DEQ is responsible for preparing a legislative report in 2025 on customers’ use of bags at grocery stores. However, as DEQ has received more general inquiries about HB 2509, we’ve created this webpage as a resource for local governments, businesses and the public to understand the basics of the new checkout bag requirements and where to turn for more detailed information.
Consumers who do not bring reusable bags can expect to pay a small fee at the register. This fee helps offset the cost businesses pay to purchase more sustainable bags. This fee can vary by store and city or county. Some bags, such as those for bulk items and privacy purposes, are not subject to the ban. Retail stores and restaurants may provide certain reusable bags for free to customers using a WIC voucher or electronic benefits transfer card.
After Jan. 1, 2020, retail stores and restaurants can no longer provide single-use bags and must charge a fee in most cases for certain types of reusable bags. Under HB 2509, the fee must be at least five cents, but local governments can set the fee higher in their jurisdiction. (HB 2509’s five-cent charge has been described as a floor, not a ceiling.) To learn more about the fee in your area, DEQ recommends contacting your local government.
- No fee required
- Reusable fabric bags, if offered as a promotion. (No more that 12 days per year)
- Fee required
- Recycled paper bags
- Reusable plastic bags
- Reusable fabric bags
- No fee required
- Fee required
The single-use checkout bag ban does not apply to bags provided to customers at a time other than checkout, which includes:
- Bags designed to hold bulk items such as small hardware or for sanitary or privacy purposes;
- Certain specialty bags, such as garment bags;
- Bags sold in a package for uses such as food storage, garbage or pet waste.
Retail stores may provide recycled paper checkout bags or reusable plastic checkout bags for free to customers using a WIC voucher or electronic benefits transfer card. They may also offer reusable fabric bags for free as a promotion on 12 or fewer days in a year. Restaurants may provide reusable plastic checkout bags for free to customers using an electronic benefits transfer.
A violation of the provisions of HB 2509 is a Class D violation subject to a maximum fine of $250. Class D violations are enforced by law enforcement officers, who may issue a citation to a retailer or restaurant. Each day a retailer or restaurant commits a violation is considered a new offense. HB 2509 allows a different penalty to be set under local provisions, so check with local jurisdictions for specific questions about enforcement. A restaurant or retail store can be charged with a violation under either the local provision or the penalty specified in HB 2509, but not both. DEQ recommends checking with local jurisdictions to learn more about enforcement in your area.
Businesses keep the fee, which allows them to recover costs in providing reusable bags.
Yes, if they are retail establishments that primarily sell groceries. By Sept. 15, 2024, grocers must provide DEQ with information on collection of bag fees and customers’ usage of recycled paper, reusable fabric and reusable plastic checkout bags. DEQ must submit a report about this information to the legislature by Sept. 15, 2025.
HB 2509 generally preempts, or overrides, any existing local checkout bag policy. However, under HB 2509, a city, county or other local government may:
- adopt or amend a local provision to require a higher fee—as long as the local provision retains the same definitions, requirements and restrictions of HB 2509;
- adopt, amend or enforce a local provision to impose a penalty other than the penalty established under HB 2509—but a restaurant or retail store can only be charged with a violation under either the local provision or HB 2509.
Aside from setting a higher fee and penalty in their jurisdictions, local governments may not adopt local provisions with definitions, requirements or restrictions that differ from HB 2509.
By encouraging the switch to reusable or recycled paper bags, Oregon can reduce the amount of bags that are used once and thrown out, while also addressing a significant problem for Oregon’s recycling programs: plastic bags. When plastic bags end up in recycling bins, they can contaminate the recycling stream and endanger the safety of workers who must untangle them from recycling equipment. This is also a positive first step toward addressing the large amount of plastic debris in the oceans, which threatens Oregon’s marine wildlife.
Jan. 16, 2020 update: Due to the high volume of inquiries DEQ has received, we’ve compiled this additional list of FAQs.
No. HB 2509 prohibits retail establishments and restaurants from providing single-use checkout bags, including single-use plastic checkout bags. However, retail establishments and restaurants may continue to provide reusable plastic checkout bags (or recycled paper checkout bags or reusable fabric checkout bags) to customers, provided they charge the applicable fee.
What’s a reusable plastic checkout bag? HB 2509 defines “reusable plastic checkout bag” as “a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of durable plastic that is at least four mils thick.”
HB 2509 applies to all retail establishments and restaurants. It does not exempt small restaurants and retail establishments from its requirements.
HB 2509 defines “restaurant” as “an establishment where the primary business is the preparation of food or drink: (a) For consumption by the public; (b) In a form or quantity that is consumable then and there, whether or not it is consumed within the confines of the place where prepared; or (c) In consumable form for consumption outside the place where prepared.”
HB 2509 defines “retail establishment” as “a store that sells or offers for sale goods at retail and that is not a restaurant.”
Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the only checkout bags that retail establishments and restaurants may provide to customers are recycled paper checkout bags (which must contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled fiber); reusable plastic checkout bags (which must be at least four mils thick); and reusable fabric checkout bags. A compostable, biodegradable or recyclable bag can be provided to customers only if it also meets the definition of one of these checkout bags. Please check HB 2509 for exact definitions of these checkout bags.
Retailers and restaurants may not provide single-use checkout bags of any material to customers.
Retail stores and restaurants that still have single-use checkout bags after January 1, 2020, cannot use them at checkout, but may find other uses for these bags. They may also find a plastic film recycler to recycle them. DEQ is aware of at least one recycler that accepts plastic film: please contact Matt Weber (email@example.com) for further information. Businesses in the Metro area, may also call 503-234-3000 to see if there are other local options.
If you are a plastic film recycler that would like to be listed in this response, please contact us at 503-229-5875.
The report will assess information only from retail establishments that primarily sell groceries, not from other retailers. DEQ is currently reviewing how it will collect the information required for the 2025 legislative report. DEQ will contact grocers when this review is complete.
Yes. HB 2509 requires retailers and restaurants to charge at least five cents, but they may choose to charge more. Local jurisdictions may also by ordinance require restaurants and retail establishments to charge more than five cents. DEQ recommends you check with your local jurisdiction to ensure compliance.
HB 2509 gives retailers and restaurants discretion to charge or to waive checkout bag fees for WIC and EBT customers:
- “A retail establishment may provide…[r]ecycled paper checkout bags or reusable plastic checkout bags at no cost to customers who: (A) Use a voucher issued under the Women, Infants and Children Program established under ORS 413.500. (B) Use an electronic benefits transfer card issued by the Department of Human Services” (emphasis added);
- “A restaurant may provide: … (b) Reusable plastic checkout bags at no cost to customers who use an electronic benefits transfer card issued by the Department of Human Services” (emphasis added).