Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Seattle bans use of plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

Seattle bans use of plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

In a first-of-its-kind law for any major American city, Seattle has instituted a ban on plastic straws and utensils at all food service businesses.

Restaurants will be tasked with finding alternatives, such as compostable paper or plastic utensils, and could face fines up to $250 for noncompliance.

The use of Styrofoam packaging in food service was banned in 2009. New York City introduced legislation to ban plastic straws in May.

Aside from the ban, Seattle food service businesses are also required to use collection bins for compostables and recyclables, which went into effect in 2010.

"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. First articulated in September of previous year, the new ban officially went into effect on Sunday.

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Seattle food providers are now banned from automatically giving customers single-use straws and utensils.

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.

Seattle's ban is part of a 2008 ordinance that requires restaurants and other food-service businesses to find recyclable or compostable alternatives to disposable containers, cups, straws, utensils and other products. 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".

Greenpeace says 40% of plastics in the ocean are from single-use plastics, KIRO reported.

More than 200 restaurants in the city voluntarily adopted the ban a year ago, stopping millions of straws from entering the waste stream, according to the Lonely Whale Foundation, an environmental group running the "Strawless in Seattle" campaign.

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