January 27, 2020
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Ditching plastic straws ‘the right thing to do,’ Portland restaurant says

Jeff Chiu | AP
Jeff Chiu | AP

Portland is one step closer to banning plastic straws.

City councilors heard the ordinance that could ban plastic straws for the first time Monday night. Some councilors said there hasn’t been much resistance from restaurants, and that could be because many in the city are already ahead of the game.

Black Cow, a cocktail bar, soda fountain and burger joint in the Old Port, currently uses paper straws.

“You know you’re just trying to make a positive step in the right direction. We do as much composting as we can. It’s just the right thing to do. Plastics are nuisance so when we can avoid them we do,” General Manager Dawn Bziebziak said.

If the ordinance passes, starting in April, customers will have to ask for a plastic straw. By 2021, they’ll be banned completely.

“We should think global, act local,” Portland City Councilor Brian Batson said. “In the United States, we use hundreds of millions of straws daily. We’re the largest city in the state. We’re literally surrounded by water. The impact it can have on the environment and in the ocean is awful.”

Plastic straws also cause problems in recycling facilities.

“Straws end up falling through those sorting streams,” said Matt Grondin, the communications manager for ecomaine, a recycling and trash-to-energy facility in Portland. “While they’re not getting clogged in any way or getting tangled in the gears, ultimately, they will fall through and create a backlog in terms of work and staffing hours.”


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