Plastic bag ban goes into effect
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Plastic bag ban goes into effect

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Jam Crafted opened about five months ago and business, owner Ana Boyll said, had been pretty good. In the last week or so, though, it’s been booming.

Boyll, who runs Jam Crafted with her husband Michael and sister Jessica Andrade, said the online, home-based store focuses on personalized mugs, shirts and other home decor. But when they heard about Oregon’s ban on plastic bags at local retailers, they moved to fill a new hole in the market by offering customizable canvas bags.

“We saw people were going to need an alternative, so we’re trying to fill that need,” Boyll said.

On Jan. 1, a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect. While some areas in the state such as Corvallis and Salem already had a ban in place, the new law made it illegal for retailers to offer single-use plastic bags.

Under the law, shoppers can use their own fabric bags but retailers can no longer offer plastic bags. Some retailers, such as Safeway, are offering a thicker plastic bag that can be used a dozen times over — and charging. Those bags are an additional 10 cents on a grocery bill for each bag. Brown paper bags, statewide, are required to carry a fee as well, most often 5 cents per bag.

Andrew Hagner and his fiance Marla Gray were shopping at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Albany on Friday and said they disagreed with the new law that levies charges for paper bags.

“Having plastic bags banned I understand, but paper is biodegradable. I don’t see why they have to charge for it,” Gray said.

According to the state, the fee is meant to offset the cost stores incur by purchasing more sustainable bags. Individuals who use a WIC voucher or electronic benefits transfer card at the register, are exempt from the fee. 

Other shoppers, such as Sara Massey of Albany, said the new law made it easier to give up plastic bags.

“We’re all for it, personally,” Massey said, after checking out at the Grocery Outlet. “I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that it’s inconvenient, but I think it’s inconvenient to not have a planet to live on.”

Tom Whitman, also of Albany, said he purchased a recycled plastic bag for 15 cents at the Grocery Outlet and planned to reuse it over time.

“I think getting rid of plastic bags is a good idea,” he said. “It causes a lot of waste and plastics don’t biodegrade. You see them blowing around all over the place.”

Reusable is the key to Boyll’s decision to incorporate canvas bags into her store.

“This is to specifically to replace the plastic bags,” she said. “We went out to different grocery stores about a month ago to see what they would be offering as an alternative and some of them didn’t know yet,” she said.

Boyll said Jam Crafted has seen an uptick in customers to its Etsy page and more activity on the store’s Facebook page as people look for alternatives to plastic bags and the fees associated with paper bags at the store.

As for how stores are adjusting to the change, managers at Winco Foods and Safeway in Albany referred questions to corporate offices.

Stores caught violating the new law can be fined up to $250 for each violation. 

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