Starting today, if you want a plastic straw or disposable fork with your food or drink order in Portland, you’ll have to ask for it or go without.
The city’s policy to limit the use of plastic straws and utensils by making them available only by request, passed last November, takes effect Oct. 1.
Straws and other single-use plastics are bad for the environment and the city should discourage their use, Mayor Ted Wheeler said at the time of the unanimous City Council vote. He pointed to the city’s climate-friendly policy goals.
More than 100 Portland businesses had already taken the step voluntarily, electing to provide plastics by request only or offering straws and utensils made from paper, bamboo or metal.
Nancy Nordman of the Surfrider Foundation, a national organization that works to protect waterways and beaches, said that good for businesses because they save money in the long run by offering reusable utensils. New Seasons Market, for example, prevented more than 100,000 single-use straws from entering the waste system since voluntarily joining the #DitchTheStrawPDX program, she said.
Cracking down on plastics isn’t exactly radical in Portland. Oregon’s largest city was among the first in the nation to ban Styrofoam takeout containers, back in 1990, and it added a plastic bag ban in 2011.