Portland asks, “Do you want trash with that?”

3 Jul 2019

This post is provided by the City of Portland, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, a Sustainable Oregon 2019 Gold Sponsor

A costly habit

Single-use items — from paper napkins and coffee cups to straws and plastic bags — have been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason. We use many items for just a few minutes before throwing them away. Disposable products may provide convenience and ease at home and on the go, but they require natural resources, energy and water, which increases carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. 

In Portland, all plastic and paper to-go items should be tossed in the garbage. They do not belong in the recycling or compost bins, even if they claim to be compostable. With a little effort we can reduce the disposable stuff we throw away to prevent waste and save money.

Say no to unnecessary take-out items they belong in the garbage

  • Take advantage of the discounts local businesses offer for bringing your own coffee mug and reusable shopping bag.
  • For to-go orders, take only what you need.
  • If you don’t need the straw, fork, spoon, cup, condiments, containers, or a bag, say so! Hundreds of Portland restaurants and bars have switched to offering straws only upon request or asking if you need single-use items.
  • Another step to reduce single-use waste is to have what you need when you need it. Make a to-go kit for your car, day bag or bike bag that includes grocery bags, a coffee mug, silverware or small containers for leftovers.

When is “compostable” not compostable?

Items labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” belong in the garbage. The labels are well-intentioned, but they’re not always accurate. Many products that are labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” don’t break down at our local composting facilities. Do not put them in your recycling or compost bins.

City of Portland single-use plastics reduction policy

Starting October 1, 2019, businesses in Portland cannot automatically include plastic straws, stirrers, utensils or individually packaged condiments in a customer’s order for dine-in, drive-thru, take-out or delivery. These items can only be provided upon request.

Find more details about the policy and amendments approved by Portland City Council on the FAQ page.