In June 2018, Portland City Council directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to develop a waste reduction strategy that addresses single-use plastics and invite feedback from community members, hospitals and care facilities, and businesses that stock and supply straws. BPS met with interested and affected stakeholders during July and August 2018. In December 2018, Portland City Council approved the ordinance in a unanimous vote. 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). This new ordinance is effective as of July 1, 2019.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the purpose of the single-use plastics reduction ordinance?
A: The purpose of this ordinance is to reduce the availability of single-use plastics that will result in lessening the impacts of plastic litter on land and in water.
Q: Who is responsible for complying with the plastics ordinance?
A: Retail food and beverage establishments: full service and fast food restaurants, bars, coffee and tea shops, grocery stores, convenience stores, hotels and motels, caterers and food service contractors.
Institutions: educational, medical and governmental.
Q: What is the requirement?
A: Dine-in situations – plastics serviceware can be provided after customer request.
Fast food, take-out and delivery situations – plastic serviceware can be provided after employee asks the customer and the customer responds affirmatively.
Q: What items are considered plastic serviceware?
A: Straws, stirrers, utensils and condiment packaging.
Q: What is covered in condiment packaging?
A: Any individual serving of single-use plastic packaging for ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, hot sauce, coffee creamer, salad dressing, jelly and jam and soy sauce.
Q: What about orders through a website or phone application?
A: Yes, these food and beverage orders are covered in the ordinance. Businesses that provide electronic ordering must ask through a prompt on their website or app and ask the customer if they need plastic serviceware and only provide if they respond affirmatively.
Q: What about bio-based or compostable plastics, are they restricted too?
A: Yes, Bio-based and “compostable” plastics are not biodegradable when littered on land or the ocean, therefore they are restricted in the same way as oil-based plastics and are not considered a viable alternative.
Q: What areas of an institution are covered?
A: Cafeterias will be considered dine-in and other retail food and beverage, like coffee stands are considered fast food.