Oregon votes to ban restaurants from offering plastic straws

Oregon will ban restaurants from offering single-use plastic straws under a measure on its way to the governor.

Posted: May 30, 2019 10:44 AM
Updated: May 30, 2019 1:48 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon will ban restaurants from automatically offering single-use plastic straws under a measure passed by lawmakers, making it the second state to enact restrictions on plastic straws.

The House voted 48-12 late Wednesday night to prohibit restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws unless a customer asks. Drive-thrus could still offer straws, as could health care facilities.

California previously passed limits on plastic straws.

Gov. Kate Brown told reporters Thursday the move is about raising public consciousness of plastic's effects on the environment and is meant to encourage more environmentally friendly lifestyle changes.

"Raising awareness to show the extent that we're so reliant on plastic is really important," she said.

On the floor, lawmakers discussed a widely shared 2015 video showing a sea turtle in distress as scientists remove a plastic straw stuck up its nose, which led to public outcry and moved cities and companies like Starbucks and Whole Foods to eliminate their use of plastic straws.

But the video, which has more than 35 million views on YouTube, didn't completely move House Republicans, who said that restricting straws makes little difference to the environment and will only cause bureaucratic headaches.

"There was no evidence provided that plastic straws used by Oregonians cause birds and turtles to have straws in them," said Rep. Werner Reschke, a Republican from Klamath Falls. "We've been banning all sorts of things that we don't do. It's not the right way."


CLICK HERE for more on what local business owners think about a similar ban on polystyrene containers.


Other Republicans said they were fine with the move, stressing it's not a total ban on straws and that customers can still request them. They were also won over by the proposal's pre-emption clause, which prohibits cities from approving future straw bans that go further than state law. That provision fractured environmentalists and caused some groups to withdraw their support.

The World Economic Forum projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Over 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year — though plastic straws make up less than 1% of ocean waste.

Although the Senate already approved the measure, the chamber must still approve a technical change before the bill hits the governor's desk.

The state is also weighing bans on single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam takeout containers, and those measures have received similar criticism for being inconvenient to consumers while not providing substantial benefits to the environment.

Brown said these measures aren't meant to be half-hearted attempts to simply make liberals "feel good" about addressing environmental issues. Instead, she said it's a first step to encouraging more comprehensive lifestyle changes.

"Every action makes a difference," she said. "When we start thinking of a path to a plastic-free life, it's really challenging and I think we all have to start moving to that mindset."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 133851

Reported Deaths: 1803
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28467459
Washington18734171
Marion16247239
Clackamas11698138
Lane8353109
Jackson693085
Umatilla679368
Deschutes499936
Yamhill319045
Malheur313552
Linn311646
Polk245540
Klamath242838
Josephine174333
Benton170514
Jefferson170525
Douglas168743
Union111416
Wasco108123
Columbia104918
Lincoln99617
Hood River95421
Coos93815
Morrow93810
Clatsop6865
Crook62110
Baker5685
Tillamook3652
Curry3245
Lake2305
Grant2131
Harney1754
Wallowa963
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3015644

Reported Deaths: 33724
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles102419013936
San Bernardino2540941560
Riverside2422062517
Orange2123892367
San Diego2117872103
Santa Clara935571076
Kern85362565
Fresno82039932
Sacramento801541080
Alameda67375764
Ventura61257412
San Joaquin57094748
Contra Costa52146449
Stanislaus42548749
Tulare41016501
Monterey35418250
San Mateo32186294
San Francisco29139262
Imperial25253463
Solano25216105
Santa Barbara24481231
Sonoma23871240
Merced23800296
Kings19254133
Placer17194173
San Luis Obispo15658128
Madera13328130
Santa Cruz12196113
Marin11569154
Yolo10519131
Shasta9594117
Butte9411121
El Dorado765944
Sutter760477
Napa752139
Lassen509413
San Benito494143
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada317673
Mendocino311432
Amador300129
Lake257228
Humboldt232224
Glenn192419
Colusa16919
Calaveras160823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10914
Inyo92429
Del Norte8572
Plumas5735
Modoc3793
Mariposa3464
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
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Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
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Brookings
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Medford
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Medford
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Klamath Falls
Clear
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Dry and mild Tuesday
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