An Oregon effort to ban single-use plastic carryout bags or set a high recycling standard has failed.
Supporters of the bill said June 10 they did not have the support to enact either measure this year.
“It appears the time for a statewide solution to this issue has not yet arrived,” the five key legislators who supported the measure said in a jointly issued statement. “But this issue is not going away. We are not going away. And these bags aren't going away. They will be around for a thousand years.”
The letter was signed by state Sens. Mark Haas, Alan Bates and Jason Atkinson, and state Reps. Ben Cannon and Vic Gilliam.
The concept of setting recycling benchmarks emerged three weeks ago. Those targets would have required manufacturers to recycle 20 percent of the bags by 2012, 40 percent by 2013, 60 percent by 2014 and 80 percent by 2015 and every year thereafter.
The proposal would have been the first statewide ban of plastic bags in the U.S. The failed bill also would have placed a 5-cent fee on paper bags at checkouts.
With the bill's demise, Portland city officials said they immediately would pursue their own ban.
Though it does not have a bag plant or recycling facility in Oregon, Hilex Poly Co. LLC fought the ban aggressively. The Hartsville, S.C., company employs 1,250 and has 30,000 recycling bins across the U.S. as part of its Bag-2-Bag recycling program. Mark Daniels, vice president of sustainability and environmental policy, said the firm will recycle 25 million pounds of plastic film and shopping bags this year at its recycling plant in North Vernon, Ind. That figure is up from the 20 million pounds it recycled in 2010 and 10 million in 2009. All the plastic film and bags Hilex recycles are used to make plastic bags, he said.
There are bans on plastic carryout bags in 22 U.S. cities, with eight of them enacted this year. In addition, Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md., have 5-cent taxes on paper and plastic carryout bags. The Montgomery County tax goes into effect Aug. 1; the D.C. tax has been in effect since Jan. 1, 2010.