In the next year, Corvallis will begin to see changes in their local shopping stores due to the plastic bag ban voted into effect by the Corvallis city council. Businesses with over 50 employees, such as Fred Meyer, Winco, and Home Depot will have six months to implement the change and all other businesses will have one year. Here are some of the opinions of local citizens and businesses about how the plastic bag ban will affect them.
Scott Givens, from Browsers’ Bookstore, stated that they have already begun making changes to be more environmentally friendly. He says, “Customers bring in their own bags to donate and reuse and we carry biodegradable bags for those who don’t have their own bags.” Scott says it is unknown whether the bag alternatives they have will be covered by the ban or not. If their alternatives are banned, the cost to bring in paper bags will not only negatively affect the business, but it will also affect customer service as paper bags and cloth reusable bags do not protect purchased books from the rain.
While speaking with an associate from Northern Star it was said that the ban will be “financially taxing on the business.” Paper bags cost a great deal more than plastic bags, which is not ideal for a small business.
C. Jeffrey Evans, a student at Oregon State and Principal Planner for Evans Consulting Systems LLC stated “I think that the City is spending a lot of time on things that will have very little effect on global warming. Mandatory recycling, bans on plastic bags, driving less are all good things to do. However, combating global warming will require a fundamental shift in how we power our society and manage our atmosphere. It will require a rapid shift away from fossil fuels — within ten years. It will require us to mandate zero emissions and waste in all of our endeavors.”
Another local citizen and dog owner said that “not only is the plastic bag ban annoying for me as a customer, it also makes dog walking and proper waste pick up more difficult. Now I have to find an alternative, which will likely cost me money, to take the place of my free plastic bags I get from grocery shopping to take with me on the dog walks.”
An avid shopper of Winco complained that the ban would make it harder for her to complete her weekly grocery shopping for her family. During the day, while her family is away at school or work, she does her grocery shopping and “now I have to place each paper bag one by one into the cart and into the house which is very time-consuming for a busy mother. It is either that, or I pay thirty dollars to purchase enough reusable bags that I don’t have that problem and to be honest, thirty dollars for bags just isn’t in my budget.”
Ashley Hansen, a local Corvallis student, stated, “I think it’s a good thing. With our landfills overflowing and parts of the ocean already full of plastic, I think things like this will be a big help in the long run.” In response to how this might irritate shoppers and cause anger towards having to purchase reusable bags, she stated that “anyone who is irritated is lazy. I prefer paper and I need a reminder to bring my cloth bags. Most cloth bags are really cheap and hold a lot. And the key word there is reusable. I think we’ve brought this on ourselves.”
Why a $0.05 charge?
As part of the recent “bag ban” Corvallis City Councilors added a $0.05 fee on every paper bag that a customer requires. There are a number of reasons for this fee.
The ordinance is designed to restrict the use of single-use, disposable bags. Plastic bags are the most abundant, and the most environmentally degrading type of disposable bags and were thus banned.
But going from single-use plastic bags to single-use paper bags does nothing to shift consumer’s habits towards using more sustainable reusable bags.
Corvallis City Councilors believe that 5 cents may be just enough of an “incentive” to nudge shoppers into using reusable bags. It’s a common tactic—of the 42 cities and 6 counties in California that have plastic bag bans, all but 4 cities have a similar “pass-through” cost.
It’s called a “pass through” cost because the cost of the bag is passed from vendor to consumer. Paper bags can cost up to 35 cents, so the 5-cent fee compensates business owners for a portion of their costs. Even without the fee, businesses would pass the costs onto consumers in higher merchandise costs.
The overt nature of the 5-cent fee simply notifies consumers that their habits have a monetary cost as well as an environmental one.
By: Cristina Himka