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Seattle bans plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars

09 July 2018

After 10 years since it was first introduced, Seattle's ban on plastic straws and utensils is now in effect. Seattle is believed to be the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service.

Plastic straws and utensils were originally exempt from the ban because of a lack of viable compostable alternatives. Counted among food service businesses are restaurants, delis, coffee shops, food trucks, cafeterias, and grocery stores.

This ban comes a decade after the city first adopted an ordinance in 2008 to require that all one-time-use food service items be recyclable or compostable.

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"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.

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. These small pieces of plastic are among the most frequently littered items, advocates for such bans say.

Businesses that violate the ban could have to pay a $250 fine.

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Every day, people in the USA use and discard an estimated 50 million straws. In 2009, Styrofoam was banned. And, in 2015, a video of a sea turtle found with a plastic straw embedded in its nose went viral. City officials said most customers will say "no" if asked if they want a straw.

According to the Seattle Times, flexible plastic straws will be available for customers who need to use them for a medical reason.

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

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Seattle bans plastic straws, utensils at restaurants, bars