Plastic Bag Ban’s Split Impact

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EUGENE, Ore. — In just more than three weeks, plastic bags will disappear fromĀ check standsĀ in stores throughout the city. Across the freeway there’s no such ban.

From the outside, Bi-Mart stores look the same; the bright red sign, the beige paint and the green roof. For decades the chain’s 73 locations touted the same departments, products and blue smocks worn by the employees who always greet you with a smile and the same question: paper or plastic?

In a few weeks this question won’t ever be uttered again in Bi-Mart’s four Eugene stores.

“Sometime between now and May 1, we’ll run out of plastic bags in our Eugene stores and just have all paper bags for our members,” said Don Leber, Bi-Mart Marketing Director.

The date, May 1, didn’t exactly creep up.

“Everybody’s pretty well talked about it. For a lot of years it’s been talked about,” Leber said.

The change sounds simple enough. Chains like Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer just won’t offer plastic bags anymore. There is a cost incurred, though. Every paper bag costs three to six times more than its plastic counterpart.

Eugene’s ban offsets that cost with a 5 cent per bag fee, another incentive to get reusable bags.

“We have quite a few already,” said one Fred Meyer customer.

Other shoppers don’t exactly oppose the ban, but they do have a complaint.

“The biggest comment we get, it’s been funny, is people use the bags for other things. They don’t so much care that they get a plastic bag here as they use the plastic bag for other stuff,” Leber said.

Lucky for them, Eugene is only part of the Eugene-Springfield market. Several chains including Bi-Mart, Fred Meyer and Jerry’s have stores in both cities. Come May 1, there won’t be changes to Springfield stores.

“They’ll still have plastic bags, just like we do in most of our markets,” Leber said.

So just as the sign, paint, roof, departments, products and smocks will stay the same, Springfield Bi-Mart members will keep hearing that question at the register: paper or plastic?

Lane County and other groups are partnering for a reusable bag swap this weekend. It’s Saturday, Earth Day, from 11-5 p.m. at EWEB’s River Edge Plaza.


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  1. Martin says:

    Will this affect the Santa Clara stores? Both Fred Meyer and Albertsons are outside the city limits, best I can tell.

  2. Dave M says:

    Okay, let’s follow a homemade cloth bag, nice, new and proud! off to the store in the back seat of the a six pac pickup, in the grocery store it rides around in what none of us allow our selves to think about, you know the kid seat, yes, the one that was last sat in by the kid that needed a diaper change about an hour ago. Among the picks of the day are fish and some uncooked chicken. Back to the truck and into the pickup bed goes the cloth bag. It’s spring, time to garden and guess what the last load was? yep, manure! anyways on to home the boys come running out to help so do the dogs jumping in excitement on oh no not the new bag. The seven year old sets the bag down right next to the dog dish, mom comes in and puts up the food and leaves the bag on the counter. At about 1:00 AM the cat smells fish, jumps up and licks up that scent but knocks it on the floor. Fido takes his turn at the bag. The next day back to the store on the back seat, but have to pick the Boys up from gym, last thing they did was pee before getting into the truck, bag is set to the floor and shoes step all over it and if you think your bag will save you from all this filth it will be set on that belt at the check out that so many other cloth bags have set on before and so will your food, yuck.

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