Seattle plastic straw, utensil ban takes effect

Marco Green
July 2, 2018

Seattle has officially become the first major US city to ban restaurants from giving plastic straws and utensils to customers in an effort to help the environment.

Other cities, such as Miami Beach, Florida; Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, and several municipalities in California including Oakland and Berkeley, have all banned the use of disposable plastic straws, but not utensils. It's said that there are 5,000 food service providers in Seattle.

Starting in July, Seattle banned restaurants from providing plastic utensils or straws to customers. The city's 5,000 restaurants can not provide customers plastic straws or utensils.

Environmental groups say that of the two options, compostable paper straws are preferred to compostable plastic straws, because the paper straws can biodegrade in the ocean, while the plastic ones won't. New York City introduced legislation to ban plastic straws in May.

The National Park Service estimates 500 million straws are used by Americans each day. Ellen Pepin-Cato of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU)-the agency responsible for enforcing the ban-tells The Seattle Times that the focus for now would be on "continuing outreach and assistance to businesses to help them come into compliance, rather than enforcement". In 2010, it became a requirement that "food service items" - with the exception of straws and utensils - be either recyclable or compostable.

Polystyrene foam containers - which are not usually recyclable - were banned in 2009.

"When this started out they were about 30-40 percent more expensive than petroleum-based products", Moscrip told KIRO 7. "But we did it anyway, just because it's the right thing to do", Moscrip said.

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.

Advocates say plastic items can't be recycled and many single-use plastics end up in the ocean, polluting the water and harming sea life.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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