Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Community conversations about single-use plastics support new policy

Portland City Council cuts backon single-use plastic serviceware while Portlanders who rely on items for healthcare situations can still obtain what they need.


December 5, 2018


Eileen Park
Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler

Christine Llobregat
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability 

Portland City Council passes ordinance to cut back on single-use plastic serviceware while Portlanders who rely on items for healthcare situations can still obtain what they need.

After a second reading and unanimous vote, Portland City Council passed a new ordinance to reduce the automatic distribution of single-use plastics in Portland. Since Portland already has bans in place for Styrofoam and plastic grocery bags, the new ordinance repeals the existing code for Single-use Plastic Checkout Bags and Polystyrene Foam Food Containers and replaces it with Code Prohibitions and Restrictions on Single-use Plastic (Ordinance; replace Code Chapter 17.103; repeal Code Sections 17.102.300-340). 

Besides overwhelming our landfills, plastic straws and other single-use disposables affect the health of humans and animal communities. Over 660 species, including sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seabirds, are impacted and in many cases die from ingesting or becoming entangled in the plastic debris. A lot of people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the plastic problem. This is a small but important step in the right direction.
– Mayor, Ted Wheeler

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) worked with the Mayor’s office to research the policies of other cities, conduct a series of workgroup meetings, analyze community feedback and land on a policy recommendation: Restrictions on plastic serviceware including; straws, stirrers, utensils and condiment packaging.

“This ordinance will multiply the impact we’ve seen with our grassroots #DitchTheStrawPDX program, preventing millions of single-use items from entering the waste-stream, said Nancy Nordman, Ditch the Straw coordinator of the Portland chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with businesses and the city to implement this policy, ultimately making a measurable reduction in waste and stopping plastic pollution at its source.”

The ordinance will include the restrictions on plastic serviceware (defined as straws, stirrers, utensils and condiment packaging) for the following situations, when applicable to the food and beverage order:

  • By request policy: In dine-in situations, plastic serviceware will be only available by request of the customer.
  • Ask first policy: In fast food, take-out and delivery situations, plastic serviceware will only be provided after the customer has been asked and confirms they want the plastic serviceware.

Notification and outreach to businesses will begin in January 2019 and the ordinance will go into effect on July 1,2019.

Community feedback guided policy development

The work group, consisting of restaurants, wholesalers, a medical facility, American Disability Act (ADA) straw users, and environmental advocates, contributed their time to discussing plastics reduction at a series of meetings, along with partners from Multnomah County, Prosper Portland and the City of Portland Bureau of Equity and Human Rights.

“The Mayor and taskforce embraced the need to create an inclusive policy that balanced the needs of both people living with disabilities and the environment,” said Nickole Cheron, ADA title II and disability equity manager, City of Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights. “We must continue to always ask ourselves who is the most impacted by our decisions and make sure we bring them to the table to insure an equitable path forward.”

“The Portland restaurant community appreciates the city keeping the ordinance “by-request”, respecting the need for single-use plastics for our customers, especially those in the disabled community," said Greg Astley, government affairs director, Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. "Portland restaurants recognize the need to reduce plastics in the waste stream balanced with the needs of our guests.”

Survey and public feedback results

A public survey focused on City action to reduce single-use plastics. Over 4000 responses resulted from the survey and were overwhelmingly supportive of City action to reduce single-use plastics.

The results of stakeholder engagement and the survey highlighted these focus areas. 

  • The community sees the need for government intervention.
  • Waste prevention (not using) is the highest and best available alternative to single-use plastics.
  • Plastic straws are a crucial tool for people with disabilities and those recovering from injury or illness and therefore should be restricted, but not banned.
  • Alternatives for reuse and single-use plastic were not specified due to variabilities in environmental impact. Switching to paper may reduce marine impact but result in cutting down more trees and higher carbon emissions. 
  • Human health impacts from single-use plastics, including toxicity need to be considered. 

Visit for more information.

Beyond the Curb: The journey of a glass bottle

Here’s the journey a glass beer bottle takes when you recycle it.

When you put your recycling out for curbside pickup, you’re connecting valuable materials to markets where they can be remade into new products. You’re also helping reduce Portland’s waste and saving energy and resources.

We get lots of questions about where recycling goes after it’s picked up. Let’s look at a glass bottle and its lifecycle. There are two ways you can recycle glass — in your yellow recycling bin, or if it has a deposit, you can take it to some grocery stores or a BottleDrop Center to get a 10-cent deposit back.

The journey of a glass bottleRecycling is good, but reuse is best!

Oregon’s Bottle Bill provides for a 10-cent return value on most beverage containers and it’s been tremendously successful at reducing waste, litter, and energy and resource use. Recently, Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative launched a refillable glass bottle program with seven statewide breweries. Bottles can be refilled 25 times before the glass needs to be melted down and recycled.

Reusing materials is even more efficient than recycling.

Let’s raise a glass to Oregon brewers and refillable bottles!

Cheers to reuse!

Growlers are another way to reuse – and they have expanded from just beer to kombucha and wine too. Most grocery stores offer growler fills, along with brew pubs and liquor stores.

Recycle with confidence: Learn how to sort your plastics

Portland doesn’t sort plastics by the numbers on the bottom – learn shapes and sizes instead!

Choose the following plastic items for your home recycling:

  • Plastic bottles with a neck (6 ounces or larger)
  • Plastic tubs (6 ounces or larger)
  • Plant pots (4 inches or larger)
  • Buckets (5 gallons or smaller)

Before you throw them in the recycling containers, rinse them out and toss the lids into the garbage.

Sorting your plastics is easy with this guide.


Sometimes it’s because the items are too small (think lids), making them too hard to sort out from paper, cardboard and other recyclables.

Other times it’s because the global market for a plastic change too frequently (to-go containers, for example). Recycling only works if it makes financial sense for companies to buy the used plastics to turn into new plastics.

What about the numbers on the bottom of plastics?

Ignore the numbers. The numbers on the bottom of plastics refers to the materials they are made from and play no role in what is recyclable in Portland.

Just think size and shape. The allowed plastics – bottles, tubs, buckets and jugs – are the right shapes to get successfully sorted, and they’re the types of plastic that recycling companies want to buy.

Is there any way to recycle these extra plastics?

Yes, for some items. Plastics bags and wrappers can go back to grocery stores. Block Styrofoam can go to Agilyx, a company that has a drop off center.

Ask Metro about items not accepted with your home recycling by calling 503-234-3000 or online at Find a Recycler.

What about plastics labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable?”

Never put plastics labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” into any recycling container. These “plastics” are made to break down quickly and will contaminate the plastics recycling process and reduce the quality of goods produced from the recycled materials.

Check out Metro’s story and video about recycling and turning what you toss into something new.

City of Portland Commits to Clean Air Construction Standard

Council voted unanimously to amend the City’s Sustainable Procurement Policy with new requirements that will reduce emissions of diesel particulate matter.



Contact: Eileen Park, (503) 823-6541

City of Portland Commits to Clean Air Construction Standard

Portland, ORE -- Today, the City of Portland committed to reducing diesel emissions on public sector construction sites. Multnomah County is also expected to adopt the Standard later this month by executive order.

The Portland City Council voted unanimously to adopt an amendment to the City’s Sustainable Procurement Policy, which would phase-in requirements for contractors working on City construction projects, with contract values over $1 million, to meet engine standards that will reduce emissions of diesel particulate matter. 

“I’m very pleased the City of Portland and Multnomah County are working together to provide leadership on a regional approach,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “A regional commitment will help ensure that the impacts of this go far beyond City and County projects and it provides the necessary certainty for our contracting community. This approach will also help to alleviate some of the impact to people of color and low-income populations, who experience the effects of diesel pollution at a disproportionate rate.”

Chair Kafoury is scheduled to pass an executive order requiring the same Clean Air Construction Standard for all County construction projects later in December. “This is a market-based approach,'' Chair Deborah Kafoury said. "We're using the spending power of public construction projects to move the market toward clean equipment. And we're excited because it can be expanded beyond the City and County toward a regional solution.”

The Standard requires equipment used on City and County construction projects to dramatically reduce particulate matter emissions from older diesel engines. The requirements will apply to non-road diesel equipment with equal to or greater than 25 horsepower, and on-road dump and cement trucks. It will include a phase-in period to allow contractors the time and flexibility to plan for the new standard. The City and County are also pursuing funding options to help disadvantaged, minority, women-owned and emerging small businesses upgrade their equipment to comply with the standard.

Portland and Multnomah County residents have the highest exposure to air toxics in the state and are well above national averages for cancer risk and respiratory hazards from air toxics. Diesel particulate matter from older engines is among the most prevalent and harmful airborne toxins in the region. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Portland Metro area registers diesel particulate matter (PM) levels above the ambient benchmark concentration set by the state.

The City and County worked with a coalition of local jurisdictions to develop this Standard with the intent that as multiple agencies adopt the Standard, it will foster a growing market for clean air construction equipment and improve air quality at a regional level. The coalition includes Washington and Clackamas Counties, the Port of Portland, Metro and the Department of Environmental Quality.


The City of Portland is committed to providing meaningful access. To request translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, or other auxiliary aids or services, contact 503-823-1125, Relay: 711.

(503) 823-1125: 口笔译服务| Chiaku me Awewen Kapas | अनुवादन तथा व्याख्या |Устный и письменный перевод | Turjumaad iyo Fasiraad | Traducción e Interpretación | Письмовий і усний переклад | Biên Dịch và Thông Dịch |

Holidays may affect your collection day for garbage, recycling and composting

Sign up for weekly email reminders about your garbage, recycling and compost collection and urgent winter weather alerts.

Changes to collection schedule December 25 – January 5

All garbage, recycling and compost collection in Portland will happen one day later than usual from December 25, 2018 to January 5, 2019. Monday customers will have regular pick-up on December 24 and December 31, 2018.

Leave carts at the curb if snow piles up

Extreme winter weather in Portland may delay collection of your garbage, recycling and composting roll carts. Leave your carts at the curb when snow and ice arrive, and your garbage and recycling company will collect them as soon as driving conditions permit.

Visit to sign up for weekly email reminders that include winter weather collection alerts when necessary. Customers without email can always call 503-823-7202 or their garbage and recycling company.

Find holiday schedule change information online--including translated messages into 10 languages--at