The Ashland Conservation Commission is recommending that Ashland ban most plastic shopping bags and require retailers to charge customers for paper bags when customers aren't carrying their own reusable bags.
The Ashland City Council will hear more about the recommendations during a study session at 5:30 p.m. tonight in the Community Development and Engineering Services Building's Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way.
Study sessions are open to the public, but public input is usually not taken.
In July, the group Environment Oregon asked city officials to consider a plastic bag ban.
The group has helped get plastic bag bans in Portland, Eugene and Corvallis.
Before putting limits on plastic bags, the city of Eugene estimated that each resident used 433 plastic bags per year.
Ashland City Councilors referred the issue to the Ashland Conservation Commission for research and recommendations.
In a report this month, the commission said a plastic bag ban would be an effective step toward comprehensive waste prevention in town.
"The prohibition of single-use plastic bags, coupled with a charge for the use of paper bags is intended to shift behavior and promote the use of reusable bags," commissioners wrote.
The commission also recommended a requirement or incentive to get stores to offer reusable bags, as well as a six-month phase-in process.
Commissioners recommended allowing some plastic bags, such as bags used to hold fruits and vegetables, bulk food, meat and fish, frozen food, hot prepared food and liquids, and flowers and plants that could be damp.
They also advocated that businesses make annual reports about impacts, such as how many reusable bags they sold, any changes in use of paper bags and how much they collected in paper bag fees.
The city also should prepare an annual report to ensure the plastic bag ban is working as intended, and to see if any changes are needed, commissioners recommended.
If councilors want to move forward with the ban, the commission envisions a timeline that would include a council decision on the issue in March 2014, with regulations taking effect in May 2014.
Some Ashland stores, including Shop'n Kart, the Ashland Food Co-op and Albertson's, have already stopped bagging groceries with plastic.
For more information on the proposed plastic bag regulations, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=15930.
In other business, the council will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.
Agenda items include:
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.