ORLA Informs Portland City Council of Efforts the Industry is Already Making to Reduce Plastics Use
In July, a work group was formed to discuss policy options to reduce single-use plastics. The work group consisted of restaurants, wholesalers, a medical facility, American Disability Act (ADA) straw users, environmental advocates and ORLA. Among the policy recommendations that came out of the group was a single-use plastic by request policy that would affect all retail food and drink businesses.
ORLA has been actively engaged in these work groups for several months and earlier today Greg Astley, ORLA Director of Government Affairs, attended the Portland City Council Meeting where a "by-request" plastics ordinance was being voted on. The following is testimony submitted on behalf of ORLA:
"Thank you for the opportunity to speak today and for the invitation for our members, restaurant owners and operators, to be a part of the workgroup and the discussion leading to today’s proposed ordinance. We appreciate being involved in the conversation from the start to help shape policy that works for everyone.
As consumers become more aware of the issues of single-use disposables in the waste stream, plastic waste reduction and the restrictions on recycling, restaurants and their suppliers have responded to the requests to reduce use of these items.
In just the last year, two major vendors to restaurants and food service establishments report significant reductions in the ordering of plastic straws. In one case, more than a third fewer straws are being ordered by food service establishments and local restaurants.
Some of our members in Portland are already voluntarily reducing usage with their own by-request straw policies, replacement of plastic straws with alternatives and by asking customers who are getting take-out whether they need plastic utensils.
Hotels and bars are also voluntarily reducing their plastic straw usage. Many of them are already promoting the fact they are a “by-request” restaurant or bar with signage and materials on tables.
Having the option to offer plastic straws to our customers who may be disabled or impaired in some way and whose safety may be at risk with metal or wooden straws is important to us too. We’ve heard from members of the disabled community who need plastic straws as an option for their own well-being and we want to be able to accommodate them.
Portland’s restaurants, hotels and bars are cornerstones in our community. They give generously to worthy causes, feed the hungry and provide a place where people can meet and break bread together. The people who own, manage and run them are Portlanders too and they care about the environment and are sensitive to customers’ requests and feelings. With so many other challenges facing the people running restaurants, hotels and bars, we appreciate the Council’s consideration and approval of a by-request ordinance coupled with education and outreach to our customers."