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Weeks before it takes effect, Newport delays ban on single-use plastics at restaurants

Newport's proposed ordinance would ban restaurants from using plastic or polystyrene foam containers such as this one.
Newport's ordinance will ban restaurants from using plastic or polystyrene foam containers such as this one.

The Newport City Council voted Monday night to delay a ban on single-use plastic items at restaurants. The ordinance, which was approved last December, was set to take effect at the end of this month. The new effective date will be Jan. 1, 2023.

The decision came after the restaurant industry said supply-chain issues are making it a challenge to source alternate products for restaurants to use.

“Finding suppliers for these products and dealing with ongoing supply chain challenges are incredibly difficult right now," said Greg Astley, a lobbyist for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. "Having the time to properly seek out vendors as well as train staff and modify operations in order to comply with the new ordinance will help with this transition.”

Newport City Council member Ryan Parker said he’s fine with the nine-month delay, as long as the date doesn’t get pushed back more.

“I want to make sure that January 2023 is a hard backstop, and there won’t be additional requests to downstream it further,” said Parker.

The law will govern both dine-in and take-out food. It applies to cups and plates, and makes disposable plastic cutlery available only on customer request.

Supporters of the original ordinance said it would help curtail plastic waste, which is damaging to marine habitat.

Bri Goodwin of the Surfrider Foundation, which worked in support of the new law, said she understands the need to delay its effective date. But she said there's nothing to prevent restaurants in Newport from incorporating some of its elements in advance.

"Businesses don't have to wait until next year – an 'ask first' policy for single-use plastic items can be implemented immediately, reducing waste and saving money for businesses," she said.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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