New Local Laws Tackle Single-Use Plastic
Oregon and Portland introduce new laws aimed at reducing single-use plastic. Learn how they work and when they take effect.
Oregon Sustainable Shopping initiative: Jan 2020
The Sustainable Shopping Initiative is designed to reduce plastic pollution and encourage Oregonians to use reusable bags. Under the bill, stores and restaurants may no longer offer thin plastic bags at check-out, but may offer recycled paper bags with a minimum 5 cent charge. Thicker reusable plastic bags will also require a 5 cent pass-through charge.
A big shout out to Master Recycler and Representative Janeen Sollman (Class 47) who was Chief Sponsor and our friends at Oregon Surfriders who advocated for the passage of Oregon’s first grocery bag law.
The law stipulates that local City laws are still in effect if they have further restrictions.
Portland Single-Use Plastics Reduction Policy: October 2019
When Portland’s single-use plastics reduction policy takes effect on October 1, 2019, Portland businesses will no longer be allowed to automatically include plastic straws, stirrers, utensils or condiment packets in a customer’s order. These items can now only be provided if a customer requests them.
All retail food and beverage establishments are required to comply, including sit-down and fast food restaurants, food carts, coffee/tea shops, grocery stores, convenience stores, hotels/motels, caterers and food service contractors.
Individually packaged condiments include items such as ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, hot sauce, coffee creamer, jelly and jam and soy sauce.
What you can do
As Master Recyclers, you know this change helps reduce plastic litter and the use of energy and resources, including fossil fuels, needed to make items that are only used once.
You can help Portlanders and businesses with these changes by sharing the importance of the policy and offering tips to those you know.
Make a to-go kit for your car, day bag or bike bag that includes grocery bags, a coffee mug, silverware or small containers for leftovers.
Have it where and when you need it and replace it when you get home, so your kit is always with you and ready for anything.
Encourage your favorite restaurants to switch to durable items, paper or wooden straws/stirrers, and/or bulk condiment containers.
Find answers to some frequently asked questions about the policy below and online.
Can any of these items be placed in a self-serve area?
Plastic forks, spoons and knives may be placed in a customer self-serve area. However, plastic straws, stirrers and condiment packets cannot; they should always be kept behind the counter.
What about online orders, take-out, drive-through, or delivery?
Businesses must ask customers, in person or online, before providing plastic straws, stirrers, utensils or condiment packets. If a customer is given these items without being asked, the business could be fined. Failure to comply can result in fines ranging from $100 to $500.
What about “compostable” plastics?
“Compostable” plastics are also by-request only. There are no exceptions for plastic items labeled “biodegradable,” “compostable,” or “made from plants.”
Straws for people with disabilities
Some people with disabilities find it difficult or impossible to drink without a straw. Even if businesses would like to eliminate plastic straws entirely, it is recommended to keep a small supply to provide when requested.