CALIFORNIA—On Thursday, September 20, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to partially ban straws beginning January 1 , 2019. Full-service restaurants will not be allowed to offer straws to patrons unless they specifically request them. The ban will not eliminate the use of straws in fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, or delis.
“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” wrote Brown in a signing statement. “Plastics, in all forms — straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. — are choking the planet.”
Since plastic straws are thin and break into smaller pieces easily, they are difficult to recycle. According to EcoCycle, Americans use around 500 million straws a day. The inability to efficiently recycle a huge amount of disposable straws resulted in negative environmental consequences. The marine advocacy group Ocean Conservancy indicates that straws are the seventh most common type of litter found on beaches.
City and state governments across the country have increased efforts to minimize the use of straws. Seattle, San Francisco, and Vancouver, British Columbia have all limited straws in restaurants. Advocates are pushing for bans in Miami, Portland, Washington D.C. and New York City. In April, Theresa May promised to eliminate the use of plastic straws from the United Kingdom, and the European Union followed suit a month later.
Starbucks, Ikea, Marriot hotels, Alaska Airlines, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and SeaWorld, have indicated plans to cut back on single-use plastics, beginning with plastic straws.
Establishments that don’t abide by the law in the state of California will be warned twice before being fined up to $300 per year.
“It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. But one thing is clear — we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products,” wrote Brown.