On November 26, 2018, the City Council voted to restrict the use of plastic carryout bags in Salem.
- Beginning April 1, 2019, large retailers will no longer be distributing plastic carryout bags at checkout in order to help protect the environment, animal and human health, and to reduce litter.
- All retail businesses, including grocery and convenience stores, apparel and department stores, and local markets will be impacted.
- Retailers can provide recyclable paper bags, charging a fee of not less than five cents per bag, or reusable bags for customers to carry away purchases.
- Restaurants and prepared food providers can still distribute plastic carryout bags.
- For stores that sell both retail items and prepared food, plastic carryout bags can only be given at checkout for prepared food items.
For further details, read Salem Revised Code Chapter 48.
Small charge for paper bags
To encourage reusable bags and to offset the higher cost of paper bags, retailers will charge at least five cents per paper bag given at checkout. This charge is called a pass-through cost and will be shown on a customer's itemized receipt.
Retailers must provide a free carryout option to low-income customers who request a bag and show an Oregon Trail Card or food assistance voucher.
Some plastic bags still allowed
Any plastic bag without handles provided to a customer for use within a retail establishment to get products to the point of sale is still allowed. Examples include bags to:
- Transport produce, meat, baked goods, and bulk items to the point of sale
- Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness is a concern
- Segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other items
Until September 1, 2019, small retail businesses can still distribute plastic carryout bags to customers.
On May 14, 2018, City Council passed a motion directing staff to research and prepare an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags in the City of Salem, and schedule a public hearing before City Council.
The public hearing for the proposed ordinance was opened on September 10, 2018 and was continued until October 22, 2018.
Second reading of the ordinance occurred November 26, 2018. The ordinance was approved.