Those in the Emerald City looking for a straw to sip on their soda pop will find themselves down on their luck because as of July 1, 2018, a citywide ban on single-use plastic straws and utensils in bars and restaurants has gone into full effect – all in an attempt to continue the push to reduce plastic waste and “petroleum-based plastics from polluting waters.”
It’s a first-of-its-kind law for any major American city, but is one that has “been a long time coming” -- at least for the Emerald one -- since almost a couple hundred restaurants had already begun participating in the Lonely Whale Foundation’s “Strawless in Seattle” campaign last year, reducing the number of plastic straws entering the waste system by 2.3 million, as The Independent reports.
The initiative, launched proudly by the environmental conservation group, had been a true success, bringing about public awareness to the pressing issue of pollution while adding to the eco-conscious city’s already extensive resume as an environmental leader in the U.S. working to curb the amounts of trash going into landfills.
Now, Seattle’s hoping to do it again, working this time to extinguish the presence of micro-plastics in the ocean once and for all.
As of the first day of July 2018, the rest of the city’s nearly 5,000 food-service businesses are now all fully required to begin offering compostable or paper straws and utensils to customers.
Everyone from food trucks and coffee shops to cafeterias, grocery stores, and of course, restaurants, have been prohibited from providing consumers with plastic items. It is only upon customer request that a vendor may hand out a compostable straw or utensil for a person to use.
Violators of the ban will need to pay a $250 fine, though the ultimate focus, as city officials tell The Seattle Times, will be “continuing outreach and assistance to businesses to help them come into compliance, rather than enforcement.” The city is even fully encouraging businesses to consider not giving out straws altogether or maybe even consider switching to paper rather than compostable plastic straws.
"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," Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara said in a statement last month.
Proud and praise-worthy indeed. What’s even more inspiring is that because Seattle has “lay claim” as the first major American city to install a plastic straw and utensil ban, as Mother Jones puts it, bans in California’s Santa Cruz County and in Malibu are now underway.
All aboard the plastic-free train!