PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Starting October 1, businesses in Portland will not be allowed to give single-use plastic items unless you ask for them.
The new policy includes plastic straws, stirrers, utensils and individually packaged condiments. It applies for dining in, takeout and delivery at restaurants, food carts, hotels, grocery stores, coffee shops, caterers and bars.
Portland City Council passed the ordinance in December to reduce plastic waste.
“We are committed to working with Portlanders to set priorities for climate action and waste reduction plays a role in that,” said Andrea Durbin, director of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
Dubin went on to say the new policy will reduce plastic litter and the demand for energy and resources, including fossil fuels required to make single-use items.
Businesses face fines up to $500 for violating the policy.
“Because of the fine, businesses are motivated to make a change,” said Colin Herring at Phat Cart Cafe in downtown Portland. “I know everyone here doesn’t have a problem making that change because it’s only helpful. It doesn’t harm anything to stop using those resources.”
Herring thinks cutting out single-use plastics is a small step toward a cleaner future.
“I think it’s important to take steps like this, but I think bigger policies could be put in place,” he said. “Straws, plastics utensils get a lot of attention — which is important. But there are giant corporations using a lot more resources in a lot less time.”
The biggest worry for some is how customers will react.
“I think we’re more worried about customer response. If we’re the first person to let customers know something has changed, then we’re the person who gets the complaint,” colin said. “Luckily, we have a lot of regulars, so those conversations are easy to have, but not everywhere is like that.”
The only services exempt from the rules are programs for free or reduced-price meals for vulnerable populations, like Meals on Wheels and at schools. Places with counter service can still have self-serve plastic utensils.
There will also still be access to straws for people with disabilities.