Plastic bag ban comes to town
Published: Monday, January 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 22:01
Well, the world didn’t end. With the new year, Corvallis retailers must adopt a new ban on single-use plastic and non-recyclable paper checkout bags, effective Jan. 1.
Now shoppers must either bring their own reusable bags or pay for recyclable paper bags at checkout. This isn’t an issue for us, but we’ve known this was coming for at least six months.
Between when the bill was passed and approved on July 2, 2012 and now, retailers and shoppers alike have had time to prepare. During the six-month period before the ban officially went into effect, retailers began implementing a 5-cent charge for using plastic and paper bags.
Now it’s the new year, and retailers with more than 50 full-time employees have cleared out their single-use plastic bags and have began charging 5 cents per paper bag. Retailers with less than 50 full-time employees, according to the bill, have until July 1 before they must fully comply with the plastic bag prohibition.
Some questions popped up once the strangeness settled: What about those little bags we put raw meat, nuts or vegetables in? Fortunately, they’re still here. We completely agree with the ban of checkout plastic bags, but no one wants meat juice collecting at the bottom of a backpack or reusable tote.
Although this move away from plastic to reusable is economically beneficial, with new policies come new problems. A study updated in 2012 showed reusable bags can carry a common foodborne virus, according to The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Don’t panic. This happens because most people don’t wash their bags after use. A word to the wise, if you’d rather skip your chances of spending the weekend in the bathroom, wipe the inside of your bag down with a disinfectant — or toss it in the wash. Then let it dry completely. A moist, dark fold is a cozy home for microbial growth.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, nor should it encourage you to lag when adopting reusable bags. If you don’t clean your counter or cutting board after raw meat dripped on it, you can’t expect it to stay bacteria-free.
Though, out of all the cities/towns in the United States, Corvallis is fairly innovative, we aren’t the first to adopt such a ban. Actually, the first place in the United States was San Francisco in 2007. It wasn’t until recently, however, that their law included charging for alternative recyclable paper bags. In 2009, Washington, D.C. unanimously approved a single-use plastic bag ban, also.
Looking outside our country, China is the most notable adopter of the plastic bag ban. In 2012, after four years of compliance with the ban, China reported saving 4.8 million tons of oil.
The prohibition has come for a good reason. We know how terrible plastic bags are for the environment: they’re harmful to the wildlife, they’re hard to recycle, they don’t break down in landfills and they add to our demand for oil.
The ban has been a long time coming, and the trial period is over. So stock up your nickels or buy a reusable bag.
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