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After delay, Newport’s single-use plastics ban to take effect

styrofoam takeout container
Pixabay
Newport's ordinance will ban restaurants from using plastic or polystyrene foam containers such as this one.

After a nine-month delay, Newport’s ban on single-use plastics is set to take effect with the new year.

The new ordinance applies to restaurant takeout items. The ban on plastic food containers, including those made of Styrofoam, is meant to reduce litter and encourage the use of alternatives that are recyclable.

Volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation routinely pick up countless plastic takeout containers on the beaches around Newport, said the organization's Oregon field manager, Bri Goodwin.

“It’s pretty easy for these really lightweight single-use items to escape trash bins because of the wind, because they are so light," she said. "Unfortunately, proper disposal isn’t always easy, and some people choose not to use proper disposal even when it is available.”

The plastic is more than just an eyesore, said Goodwin.

“It can be eaten by wildlife, which can cause harm because they can’t digest it," she said. "It takes up space in their stomach where they need food to go.”

The ban was supposed to take effect in March, but the city delayed it to give restaurants more time to prepare for the change.

At the time, a lobbyist for the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association said the delay was necessary due to supply chain shortages affecting products that could be used as an alternative to single-use take-out containers, as well as to give businesses enough time to train staff members in the new ordinance.

The industry group did not respond to an inquiry from KLCC about whether enough time had lapsed for businesses in Newport to adequately prepare for the ordinance to take effect.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. 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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