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: 356061

Reported Deaths: 4275
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55695704
Washington38673322
Marion36719454
Clackamas29660309
Lane27624302
Jackson22982310
Deschutes20211125
Umatilla14451150
Linn12780130
Douglas12065243
Josephine9349196
Yamhill8674113
Klamath7965118
Polk733681
Malheur561776
Benton546531
Coos501294
Columbia379744
Jefferson372352
Union318449
Lincoln318039
Crook287546
Wasco287441
Clatsop243329
Baker202529
Tillamook196432
Hood River192137
Morrow184423
Curry180025
Harney113726
Grant100013
Lake92412
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1503
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4842472

Reported Deaths: 71202
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148181426506
Riverside3712935030
San Diego3660564183
San Bernardino3582135663
Orange3241845550
Sacramento1593332308
Kern1459621644
Fresno1458772084
Santa Clara1453911896
Alameda1205301400
San Joaquin1025821721
Ventura1009841166
Contra Costa998841008
Stanislaus860701331
Tulare80203967
San Francisco54375646
San Mateo54112622
Monterey50885587
Solano46021341
Santa Barbara45160523
Merced42299581
Sonoma40925402
Placer39342425
Imperial35999766
Kings32801322
San Luis Obispo29945332
Madera23876285
Shasta23851352
Butte23738270
Santa Cruz21018220
Yolo20353248
Marin17692244
El Dorado17169149
Sutter13913175
Napa12882100
Yuba1008582
Tehama9510110
Humboldt9243108
Nevada914290
Mendocino763687
Lassen754347
San Benito744472
Tuolumne688089
Lake6605104
Amador544064
Siskiyou450546
Glenn436733
Calaveras389381
Del Norte358342
Colusa307218
Inyo211140
Mono16703
Plumas16417
Mariposa133416
Trinity87711
Modoc6865
Sierra1880
Unassigned1820
Alpine1030
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