Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Seattle plastic straw, utensil ban takes effect

Seattle plastic straw utensil ban takes effect Getty images
Priscilla Morrison | 09 July, 2018, 15:59

Looking for a straw to sip your soda?

Seattle has been slowly banning restaurants from giving out disposable food containers and other single-use food service items since 2009. The eco-conscious city has been an environmental leader in the USA, working to aggressively curb the amount of trash that goes into landfills by requiring more options that can be recycled or composted. In 2010, it became a requirement that "food service items" - with the exception of straws and utensils - be either recyclable or compostable.

Seattle Public Utilities says a 2008 ordinance has phased out various plastic products from the food industry. But because of the market, plastic utensils and straws have been exempted in Seattle's ban until now, the newspaper reported.

According to the Seattle Times, flexible plastic straws will be available for customers who need to use them for a medical reason. She called plastic waste "one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world".

Mike Kemp via Getty Images Plastic straws like these are too small and flimsy to be processed by recycling centers and often end up in oceans. San Luis Obispo requires single-use straws only be provided in restaurants, bars and cafes when customers ask for them.

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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. Ellen Pepin-Cato of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU)-the agency responsible for enforcing the ban-tells The Seattle Times that the focus for now would be on "continuing outreach and assistance to businesses to help them come into compliance, rather than enforcement".

The city had allowed exemptions for some products until alternatives could be found.

Last September, the Lonely Whale Foundation started a "Strawless in Seattle" campaign, which reportedly prevented the use of 2.3 million plastic straws in just one month.

Restaurants were encouraged to use up existing supplies of plastic straws and utensils before July.

Businesses that don't comply with the ban can now face a $250 fine.

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