Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

'Strawless in Seattle': City bans plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

'Strawless in Seattle': City bans plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

Screenshot via YouTube/Lonley WhaleSeattle continues to play its role as an incubator of bad policy ideas by imposing the nation's first ban on plastic straws.

Businesses that violate the ban could have to pay a $250 fine. The city's 5,000 restaurants can not provide customers plastic straws or utensils. The city made an exception for straws and utensils, since alternatives to plastic were hard to come by at the time.

So, as of Sunday, businesses were expected to have used up their inventories of plastic utensils and straws, although establishments that needed more time to comply are able to work with the city's Public Utilities department.

The Seattle Times reports that it's believed to be the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service.

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The law prohibits all food-service businesses, including restaurants, coffee shops, delis, and pubs, from offering any disposable straw or utensil to patrons unless they specifically request one.

According to the Strawless Ocean campaign, straws can ruin loads of recycling because a lot of them aren't heavy enough to make it through industrial recycling sorters. Though compostable plastic straws are allowed, environmental groups advocate using compostable paper-based straws. Seattle Public Utilities exempted plastic utensils and straws due to a lack of compostable alternatives.

The full ban went into effect on July 1, a decade after the city first introduced a measure requiring restaurants to use only recyclable and compostable materials. First articulated in September of previous year, the new ban officially went into effect on Sunday.

A "Strawless in Seattle" campaign last fall by the Lonely Whale involving more than 100 businesses voluntarily helped remove 2.3 million single-use plastic straws.

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