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.

Confirmed Cases: 3949

Reported Deaths: 148
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah104558
Marion90925
Washington69517
Clackamas29410
Deschutes1200
Linn1159
Umatilla1123
Polk9610
Lane672
Yamhill657
Jackson600
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath410
Coos310
Malheur280
Josephine261
Douglas250
Jefferson240
Wasco181
Columbia160
Hood River120
Morrow120
Lincoln90
Tillamook60
Curry60
Union60
Crook50
Wallowa20
Sherman10
Grant10
Harney10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96400

Reported Deaths: 3769
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles460232116
Riverside7004292
San Diego6701249
Orange5469133
San Bernardino4365176
Alameda287493
Santa Clara2652139
San Francisco238640
Kern187129
San Mateo183376
Tulare164175
Santa Barbara155112
Fresno148222
Contra Costa133637
Sacramento130256
Imperial127423
Ventura91230
San Joaquin75233
Kings6472
Stanislaus64628
Sonoma5004
Solano45520
Monterey4138
Marin40314
Merced2616
San Luis Obispo2591
Santa Cruz2002
Yolo19422
Placer1859
Napa1013
Humboldt932
Madera842
El Dorado780
San Benito722
Nevada411
Sutter402
Del Norte370
Shasta364
Butte340
Mono341
Yuba281
Mendocino210
Inyo191
Mariposa151
Calaveras130
Lake120
Glenn120
Amador100
Siskiyou61
Colusa50
Lassen40
Plumas40
Tuolumne30
Tehama31
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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