Seattle bans use of plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

Seattle bans use of plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

Looking for a straw to sip your soda?

Violators will be hit with $250 fines.

The use of Styrofoam packaging in food service was banned in 2009.

As businesses in the Emerald City struggle to comply with the new straw ban, other jurisdictions are passing or seriously considering bans of their own.

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.

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

A ban went into effect Sunday outlawing those particular straws and utensils at "all food service businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops, food trucks, and institutional cafeterias".

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Seattle Public Utilities says a 2008 ordinance has phased out various plastic products from the food industry.

About 10 years ago, Seattle banned all noncompostable or nonrecyclable one-time-use food service items, but made an exception for straws and utensils because of a lack of viable alternatives at the time.

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 National Park Service estimates 500 million straws are used by Americans each day.

New York City and Los Angeles are said to be considering a similar ban on non-compostable straws and utensils.

California's Legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws. Then, the products were "30 to 40 percent more expensive", he said. Food service businesses can make flexible plastic straws available to people who need them for medical reasons.

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