If you enjoy sipping your drink through a straw, whether it’s a cocktail at a bar or a soda at Chuck E. Cheese (through a Spiderman-themed twisty straw, of course), it’s time to start changing your habits. More and more establishments, companies, and even entire regions are banning plastic straws in an effort to curb plastic waste, and now, Seattle just became the first major US city to ban them. Since July 1, Seattle has prohibited restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, grocery stores, delis, and cafeterias from providing customers with plastic utensils, plastic straws, or plastic cocktail picks.
Seattle is the first major US city to enact a plastic straw and utensil ban (though smaller cities like Malibu and Santa Cruz beat it to the punch). Restaurants are still allowed to offer customers “durable” alternatives, like metal straws and utensils. The aim of the ban is to reduce pollution caused by plastic. According to Greenpeace, 40 percent of plastics in the ocean come from single-use items, and Seattle is taking a proactive approach to tackling the problem.
The city took its first stab at eliminating single-use plastic items back in 2008, but alternatives were hard to come by, so the city allowed for several exemptions. Nowadays, however, there are multiple compostable, environmentally friendly options for utensils and straws, so the ban is expected to be far more comprehensive.
Lawbreakers can expect to pay a $250 fine though the penalty won’t go into effect until the second year. In the meantime, the focus will be on continuing outreach and assistance to businesses to make compliance as smooth as possible.
Similar legislation is currently being considered in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.