This Major City Just Banned Plastic Straws

Seattle is the first major US city to ban plastic straws and utensils, according to the Seattle Times.

The ban is an extension of a law that was passed 10 years ago but kept straws and plastic utensils exempt.

That exemption expires on June 30, meaning on July 1, all single use plastics are no longer allowed to be served at Seattle’s 5,000 restaurants.

Exceptions are made for those who medically require the use of a bendable plastic straw.

Otherwise, no drinks will be served with a straw, and for those who wish to have one they must use the new paper-based straws and degradable utensils the restaurants will now provide.

The ban will hopefully cut down on the amount of plastic waste, specifically single use plastics like straws, that end up in Seattle’s waste stream every month.

“Last year, with the participation of just 150 establishments in the city, more than 2.3 million plastic straws were kept out of the waste stream in September alone,” the Seattle Times wrote.

The city ordinance has been in place since 2008, but loopholes and various exceptions have kept the ordinance from meeting its full potential.

Now, the various exceptions to the rule have expired and Seattle decided not to renew these loopholes. As a result the city should see a decrease in the amount of single use plastic waste.

The first year of the new ordinance will focus mainly on educating restaurants over tough enforcement, but after the first year businesses can get hit with a $250 fine should they fail to comply.

This is a huge step in helping to lower the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean every year, which totals to roughly 9 million tons.

Along with restaurants banning single use plastic, grocery stores can also help by following California’s law and charging for grocery bags in an attempt to entice people to bring reusable bags, cutting down on the amount of plastic bags used each year.

Everyone can help lower their use of plastic by using reusable bags, cups and straws.