Portland’s 2019 Plastic Straw, Utensil and Condiment Ordinance

By Holly Hummel, RA Treasurer

PORTLAND SCORES A HUGE WIN FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!  Plastic Straws, plastic utensils and condiment packages are OUT UNLESS REQUESTED, effective July 1, 2019.

The City Council issued findings regarding the pervasiveness and the problem presented by single-use plastic items:

“Plastic straws are the sixth most frequently occurring litter in the US … Litter cleanup data from SOLVE volunteers revealed 15% of litter by count consists of single-use plastics from packaging associated with take-out and delivery of food and drink.  … According to a 2016 study conducted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 4% of Portland’s landfill-bound waste by weight is plastic packaging, which represents 38 million pounds of plastic or 60 pounds of plastic per person, per year.  … Over 600 speciesj, including sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seabirds, are known to be impacted by plastic, either by ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic debris. …”

THEREFORE, Portland passed ordinance number 17.103.310 Restrictions on Single-Use Plastic Serviceware that provides that effective July 1, 2019, all retail food and beverage establishments and institutional cafeterias:

“where beverages may be consumed at dine-in areas, shall provide plastic serviceware only after customer request” and all such facilities” where customers order fast food, take-out or delivery, shall provide plastic serviceware to customers only after asking if the customer needs plastic serviceware and the customer responds affirmatively.”

Plastic serviceware is defined as “single-use plastic straws, stirrers, utensils and condiment packaging.  Utensils are single-use utensils intended for consumption of food which includes but are not limited to spoons, forks, knives, sporks and chopsticks.”  Condiment packaging means “plastic packaging used to deliver single-serving plastic packaging for ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, hot sauce, coffee creamer, salad dressing, jelly and jam and soy sauce.”

Here’s a link to the Portland ordinance.  https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/706080

This ordinance is a HUGE step forward for Portland, and we applaud it.  However, it doesn’t begin to address the problem of single use to go cups.  If you’ve been following or PLEDGED to become a part of our Bring Your Own Cup campaign, you may remember that over 50 million single-use coffee cups are trashed in the Portland Metro Area every year, creating over 3 million pounds of solid waste and generating about 12 million pounds of greenhouse (C02) emissions.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Please join us by making a pledge to Bring Your Own Cup. You can also support RA’s work by choosing to support cafés that have pledged to support our campaign, or by donating to Recycling Advocates, or by designating Recycling Advocates as your charity of choice through the Fred Meyer Rewards program or at www.smile.amazon.com. Thanks for your support.

We are looking for more Board members and more volunteers. Please get in touch with us me at holly@hollyhummel.com or with Adrienne at info@recyclingadvocates.org if you have any interest in volunteering or becoming a board member. Among other things, we need to get more coffee shops to participate in our BYOC campaign! You can do as much or as little as you like.  Whatever your skills, there is a place for you at Recycling Advocates!