Though small, plastic straws have a tremendous negative impact on the environment. With more than 500 million, non-recyclable plastic straws being used each day in the U.S. – about 38,000 straws in a single person’s lifetime – it’s no wonder why many places are looking to ban them. Quite frankly, plastic straws, suck.
One of the most recent places to take notice of the amount of trash that’s accumulated from plastic straws and other plastic utensils is Seattle. No surprise there being as the city has been recognized and awarded for being one of the nation’s most sustainable cities.
However, this isn’t a recent development. Back in 2010, the city of Seattle passed the ban but an exemption was put in place so restaurants could figure out how to best prepare for the ban. It has been a long time coming, but come July 1st, 2018, the exemption will expire and the ordinance relating to the City of Seattle’s solid waste system will be in full effect.
“As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils,” Seattle Public Utilities’ Strategic Adviser for Product Stewardship Sego, Jackson said. “What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. But they also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether.”
The ban only applies to restaurants and businesses in Seattle that serve food. Plastic straws and utensils will still be available for purchase at grocery and convenience stores in the city. If restaurants are found dispensing single-use, plastic straws or utensils after July 1st of next year, they will be warned and eventually fined. “However, they will be given some leeway from when the ban goes into place, and be given help with the transition,” Jackson continued.
Making the switch from plastic to compostable alternatives should be simple enough for restaurants and business since straws and utensils made from bamboo, cornstarch, recycled paper, and other eco-friendly materials, are widely available from restaurant supply companies.
We’re looking forward to following Seattle’s journey once the ban takes full effect and are hopeful that other states will soon follow suit and ban plastic straws and utensils.