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Scram, doggy-bags: bill allowing customers to bring own reusable containers to eateries passes through Oregon senate

Take-out containers and single-use plastic fork, straw.
Brian Bull
Take-out containers and single-use plastics (straw, fork) are common at many eateries.

Much like how Oregon’s grocery stores let shoppers bring in their own reusable bags, restaurants could fill diner’s personal take-home containers under a bill approved by the state Senate Wednesday.

Senate Bill 545 would direct the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to adopt rules that would give diners the choice to refuse single-use plastics.

“Once OHA’s rules are adopted, restaurants will have the option to allow customers to bring their own containers for filling, leftovers or not,” said Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, before the vote.

“Some restaurants currently contract with outside vendors to provide reusable, returnable, to-go container service," she said. "This policy will actually allow them to bring that service in-house and potentially save the restaurant money.”

Some critics in the Senate pushed back, questioning the practicality, liability, or sanitary aspects of such an arrangement. But the bill passed with bipartisan support, and now heads to the Oregon House of Representatives.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.