The Oregon House of Representatives voted 48 – 12 late on Wednesday, May 29 to pass Senate Bill 90, which would require customers at restaurants to request plastic straws, rather than being offered automatically. Oregon is the second state after California to target plastic straws in this way as a means to reduce the state’s plastic waste.
Data from the World Economic Forum shows that there is over 8 million metric tons of plastic waste in the ocean. However, approximately 1% of that is made up of plastic straws. Oregon Republicans attempted to use this discrepancy as reason to deny the bill, at one point attempting to tank it with a dozen different unrelated amendments. They believed that the burden it imposes on consumers is larger than the problem it wants to solve.
Governor Kate Brown has said the bill is not just an attempt at liberal “feel-good” legislation, but rather a step in comprehensive lifestyle changes that are needed in the face of realities like the oceans’ plastic waste and the ongoing effects of climate change.
SB 90 is one of three bills introduced recently to cut back on volume of single-use plastics used in Oregon. House bill 2509 seeks to ban plastic bags, and House Bill 2883 bans polystyrene (styrofoam) containers.
By Ian MacRonald