Wed, Jul 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Seattle bans plastic straws, utensils at restaurants

‘SETTING AN EXAMPLE’:The city is encouraging 5,000 restaurants to consider not providing straws altogether or switch to paper rather than compostable plastic straws

AP, SEATTLE

Looking for a plastic straw to sip your soda? It is no longer allowed in Seattle bars and restaurants.

Neither are plastic utensils in the latest push to reduce waste and prevent marine plastic pollution. Businesses that sell food or drinks will not be allowed to offer the plastic items under a rule that went into effect on Sunday.

Seattle is believed to be the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service, according to Seattle Public Utilities. The eco-conscious city has been an environmental leader in the US, working to aggressively curb the amount of trash that goes into landfills by requiring more options that can be recycled or composted.

The city’s 5,000 restaurants — including Seattle-based Starbucks outlets — will have to use reusable or compostable utensils, straws and cocktail picks, though the city is encouraging businesses to consider not providing straws altogether or switch to paper rather than compostable plastic straws.

“Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world’s oceans, and I’m proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban,” Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara said in a statement last month.

Proposals to ban plastic straws are being considered in other cities, including New York and San Francisco.

California’s legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws.

It would block restaurants from providing straws as a default, but would still allow a customer to request one. It has passed the state assembly and now awaits action in the state senate.

In the UK, British Prime Minister Theresa May in April announced a plan to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

She called plastic waste “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world.”

Smaller cities in California, including Malibu and San Luis Obispo, have restricted the use of plastic straws. San Luis Obispo requires single-use straws only be provided in restaurants, bars and cafes when customers ask for them.

City officials said most customers will say “no” if asked if they want a straw.

Business groups have opposed the idea in Hawaii, where legislation to ban plastic straws died this year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Sunday, with the Hawaii Restaurant Association and Hawaii Food Industry Association testifying against the measure.

Seattle’s ban is part of a 2008 ordinance that requires restaurants and other food-service businesses to find recyclable or compostable alternatives to disposable containers, cups, straws and utensils.

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