Seattle’s Ban On Plastic Straws And Utensils Now In Effect

Q&A: Seattle's plastic straw ban now in effect; here's what you need to know

Screenshot via YouTube/Lonley WhaleSeattle continues to play its role as an incubator of bad policy ideas by imposing the nation's first ban on plastic straws.

The ban impacts over 5,000 restaurants and food providers in the region.

Plastic straws and utensils were originally exempt from the ban because of a lack of viable compostable alternatives. Since there are now "multiple manufacturers of approved compostable utensils and straws", those items' plastic counterparts will no longer get a pass, the city said in its notice.

Restaurants were encouraged to use up existing supplies of plastic straws and utensils before July.

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The ordinance, which went into effect Sunday, prohibits restaurants, delis, coffee shops, food trucks, cafeterias and grocery stores from providing the plastic items to customers.

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

The Seattle Times reports that it's believed to be the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service. City officials said most customers will say "no" if asked if they want a straw. Under the new rules, establishments will need to offer their customers "compliant options"-for example, straws made of paper or compostable plastics or risk a fine". First articulated in September of a year ago, the new ban officially went into effect on Sunday.

Environmental advocates have been pushing for restaurants and other businesses to ditch single-use straws, saying they can't be recycled and end up in the ocean, polluting the water and harming sea life. The 150 businesses participating in "Strawless in Seattle", a campaign led by Lonely Whale Foundation, prevented 2.3 million plastic straws from entering the waste system last September alone.


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