Some local restaurant owners said a statewide ban on automatically providing customers with straws would be silly, but it wouldn’t suck.
Carrying a bundle of straws in an apron pocket or grabbing a handful is a habit that waiters at Aroy Thai and other Oregon restaurants may soon drop.
The Oregon House passed Senate Bill 90 on Wednesday. It would ban restaurants and convenience stores from automatically including disposable plastic straws with drinks. The bill allows straws to be provided upon individual customer request.
The bill will go back to the Senate for approval on an amendment excluding hospitals and nursing homes before going before Gov. Kate Brown for approval.
Ryan Walker, owner of Aroy Thai restaurant, said the ban won’t really affect the business. It just adds a step for customers who want them.
“I’m initially okay with it, but no straws could be inconvenient for my customers,” Walker said, mentioning specifically lipstick-wearing ladies. “A lot of people don’t use them even when I hand them out.”
The bill also excludes drive-thru orders and convenience stores without room to keep the straws behind the counter.
Violators could be fined up to $25 per day, capped at $300 per year.
The law would be enforced by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Health Authority, which already regulate food establishments.
Tolly’s Manager Patti Taylor said the bill is a silly way to reduce single use plastics when they are so small.
“There are a lot of bigger things you’d think they’d be focused on,” Taylor said. “Anything but straws.”
The bill is one of three bills addressing plastic waste moving forward this session.
House Bill 2883 would prohibit restaurants, grocery stores, food carts and other food vendors from selling prepared food in polystyrene foam containers. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2021. The bill has been approved by the House and by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
House Bill 2509 would ban single-use checkout bags, with some exceptions, and impose a 5-cent fee on reusable bags. It’s been approved by the House and by the Senate Rules Committee, but has not yet been voted on by the full Senate.
Old Soul Pizza owner Ray Bartram said it won’t really affect the pizza parlor much.
“We do very little straws and if we have to adjust, we’re fine,” Bartram said. “We’ll do whatever we have to do. We’ll make it work.”