Single-use plastic products have been under major scrutiny around the world for some time now. Over the weekend, Seattle chimed in on this debate, cracking down on these single-use plastic products once and for all. The city of Seattle bans plastic straws and utensils moving forward in all food service businesses, including restaurants, coffee shops, delis, and even food trucks. If any of these businesses choose not to comply with the new Seattle Plastic Ban, said business can face up to a $250 fine. The Seattle Plastic Ban further goes on to state that these food service businesses may opt instead for utensils made from more environmentally friendly materials.
Consumer Affairs states that “Compliant options include durable or compostable utensils, straws, and cocktail picks. Compliant straws include those made of compostable paper or compostable plastic,” Seattle Public Utilities said in a letter. “Utensils banned include disposable plastic forks, plastic spoons, plastic knives, and plastic cocktail picks.”
The city also suggests that businesses only provide approved utensils upon request.
About 500 million straws are used by Americans each day, according to the National Park Service. Single-use straws are a major contributor to marine water pollution, since a majority aren’t recycled.
A number of businesses and cities have set out to reduce their negative impact on the environment through banning one-time use straws.
In March, the City Council of Malibu, California voted to ban single-use plastic straws and cutlery within city limits by June 1. In May, a legislation was proposed that would ban plastic straws and stirrers in all venues across New York City.
McDonald’s announced earlier this year that it would start phasing out straws in 1,300 of its U.K. restaurants and replacing them with paper straws. The company followed that up in June by announcing plans to test the use of paper straws at select U.S. locations later this year.
The initiatives come amid expert predictions that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Seattle’s new ban on plastic straws and utensils follows other efforts made by the city to reduce the amount of waste it produces. In 2009, Seattle banned Styrofoam. The following year, the city made it a requirement that “food service items” — with the exception of straws and utensils — be either recyclable or compostable.
“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,” Mami Hara, the general manager of Seattle Public Utilities, told KOMO News.
Which side of the Seattle Plastic Ban are you on? Would you like to see more of this in your city? Let us know! Send an email to Outreach@ConsiderTheConsumer.com, find us on Twitter or Facebook, or even connect with us directly on our website! We look forward to hearing from all of you.