Seattle becomes first major US city to ban straws

Seattle becomes first major US city to ban straws

San Francisco & Berkeley are among the Bay Area cities considering a ban on plastic straws.

Seattle just became the first U.S. city to impose the trendy ban, and NY may soon follow suit, with Mayor Bill de Blasio backing an anti-straw City Council bill. It affects "all food service businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops, food trucks, and institutional cafeterias".

"Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world's oceans, and I'm proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban", Mami Hara, the general manager of Seattle Public Utilities, told KOMO News.

Seattle urged businesses to use up their existing inventory of plastic utensils and straws before Sunday.

The single-use plastics ban is said to be part of the city's efforts to limit waste and prevent petroleum-based plastics from getting mixed in with compost or polluting marine waters.

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Though the ban carries a $250 fine for any businesses who violate it, city officials told The Seattle Times that the focus for the next year will be more on educating and assisting businesses with compliance than on enforcement. "And really taking a stand on what needs to happen, a ban on all single-use plastic products".

According to the Strawless Ocean campaign, straws can ruin loads of recycling because majority aren't heavy enough to make it through industrial recycling sorters.

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

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. Seattle Public Utilities exempted plastic utensils and straws due to a lack of compostable alternatives. First articulated in September of a year ago, the new ban officially went into effect on Sunday.

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