US city says to stop sucking on plastic

Starting in July Seattle banned restaurants from providing plastic utensils or straws to customers

US city says to stop sucking on plastic

Seattle is the first major city to outlaw plastic straws.

Though the ban carries a $250 fine for any businesses who violate it, city officials told The Seattle Times that the focus for the next year will be more on educating and assisting businesses with compliance than on enforcement.

San Francisco and Berkeley are among the Bay Area cities that have considered a ban on plastic straws.

Seattle is believed to be the first major USA city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service, according to Seattle Public Utilities.

Last September, the ocean advocacy nonprofit Lonely Whale Foundation got businesses in Seattle to exchange 2.3 million plastic straws out for compostable alternatives as part of a Strawless in Seattle campaign. Restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks, and cafeterias can now switch to compostable paper or plastic straws.

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Seattle food providers are now banned from automatically giving customers single-use straws and utensils. These small pieces of plastic are among the most frequently littered items, advocates for such bans say.

California's Legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws. The city then required that compostable or recyclable food service items, including plastic straws and utensils, be used beginning in 2010.

Proposals to ban plastic straws are being considered in other cities, including NY and San Francisco.

Business groups have opposed the idea in Hawaii, where legislation to ban plastic straws died this year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday, with the Hawaii Restaurant Association and Hawaii Food Industry Association testifying against the measure.

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.

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