SEATTLE – Looking for a plastic straw to sip your soda? It is no longer allowed in the bars and restaurants of Seattle.
Neither are the plastic utensils at the last pressure to reduce waste and avoid contamination of marine plastic. Companies that sell food or beverages will not be able to offer plastic items according to a rule that went into effect on Sunday.
It is believed that Seattle is the first major city in the US. UU In prohibiting the use of straws and plastic utensils for single use in the food service, according to Seattle Public Utilities. The ecologically conscious city has been an environmental leader in the United States. UU., Working to aggressively stop the amount of garbage that enters landfills by requiring more options that can be recycled or composted.
Seattle's 5,000 restaurants will now have to use reusable products or compostable utensils, sorbets and cocktail spikes, although the city is encouraging businesses to consider not giving straws or switching to paper instead of compostable straw.
"Plastic pollution is overcoming 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 ban on plastic straw," said Seattle general manager Public Utilities, Mami Hara, in a statement last month.
Proposals are being considered to ban plastic straws in other cities, including New York and San Francisco.
The California Legislature is considering state restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws. It would block restaurants from providing straws by default, but it would still allow a customer to request it. The state Assembly has passed and now awaits action in the Senate.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May announced in April a plan to ban the sale of plastic straws, beverage stirrers and plastic stem cotton buds. She described plastic waste as "one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world."
California's smaller cities, including Malibu and San Luis Obispo, have restricted the use of plastic straws. San Luis Obispo requires that single-use straws are only provided in restaurants, bars and cafeterias when customers request them. City officials said most customers will say "no" if asked if they want a drop.
Business groups have opposed the idea in Hawaii, where legislation to ban plastic straws died this year, reported Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday. Hawaii Restaurant Association and the Hawaii Food Industry Association declare against the measure.
The Seattle ban is part of a 2008 ordinance that requires restaurants and other food service companies to find recyclable or compostable alternatives to disposable containers, cups, straws, utensils and other products.
Companies had time to work to comply with the ban, said Jillian Henze, a spokeswoman for the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, an industry trade group.
"We've almost had a year to look for products to protect the environment and give customers a good experience (with alternatives)," he said.
The city had allowed exemptions for some products until alternatives could be found. With multiple manufacturers offering alternatives, the city allowed the exemption for plastic utensils and straws to run out over the weekend.
Environmental advocates have been pushing for restaurants and other businesses to abandon single-use straws, saying they can not be recycled and end up in the ocean, polluting the water and damaging marine life.
A "Strawless in Seattle" campaign last fall by Lonely Whale that involved more than 100 companies voluntarily helped eliminate 2.3 million single-use plastic straws.
Supporters say it will take more than banning plastic straws to curb ocean pollution, but abandoning them is a good first step and a way to start a conversation about waste and ocean conservation.
Seattle urged companies to deplete their existing inventory of plastic utensils and straws before Sunday. Those who could not exhaust their supply have been told to work with the city on a schedule of compliance.
Companies that do not comply can face a fine of up to $ 250, but city officials say they will work with businesses to make the changes.
Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press writer in Sacramento contributed to this report.
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