Gone are the days when your lunch order came with a side of plastic: straws, cutlery and condiment packets.Read More…
Next time you order food to-go, you may be asked, “Do you need a straw? Or a fork?”
You’re being asked instead of automatically handed these items because of the City of Portland's new “by-request” policy.
As of October 1, businesses in Portland cannot automatically include plastic straws, stirrers, utensils or individually packaged condiments with your food or drink order. These items can only be provided by request.
Straws and other single-use plastic items are littering our streets, polluting waterways, and trashing our recycling and compost.
By switching the default to “ask before providing,” customers don’t end up with disposables they didn’t want, businesses save money, and less energy and resources—including fossil fuels—are needed to make things that are only used once.
Many Portland restaurants have already made changes to reduce waste by:
The City’s policy follows their lead, builds on Portland's existing single-use plastic bag and Styrofoam bans, and joins cities and countries around the world in supporting residents’ desire to reduce plastic waste.
What about “compostable” plastics? There is no exception for plastic items labeled “compostable,” “biodegradable” or “made from plants.” These items cannot be composted in Portland (read why). Additionally, they can have negative environmental impacts equal to or greater than conventional plastics and are unlikely to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean [1, 2].
Why by-request instead of a ban? Some people with disabilities find it difficult or impossible to drink without a straw, and plastic straws meet their needs better than paper or metal straws. Additionally, by resetting the default from automatically providing single-use items to giving customers a choice, the intent is to reduce all types of single-use waste.
Reducing single-use items is great but avoiding them altogether is even better. Using “real” cutlery, cups and dishware is the greenest option. Here’s what you can do: