Seattle has officially become the first major USA city to ban restaurants from giving plastic straws and utensils to customers in an effort to help the environment. Humans have dumped an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic into the Earth's marine environments; we add another 8 million metric tons every year.
Seattle food providers are now banned from automatically giving customers single-use straws and utensils.
"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.
Businesses can opt for straws and utensils made from more environmentally friendly materials such as paper, steel and bamboo. These small pieces of plastic are among the most frequently littered items, advocates for such bans say.
Any of Seattle's 5,000 restaurants found to be violating the ban could face a fine of up to $250.
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California's Legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws.
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.
Every day, people in the USA use and discard an estimated 50 million straws.
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. Seattle Public Utilities exempted plastic utensils and straws due to a lack of compostable alternatives.
Bon Appétit Management Company became the first USA food service company earlier this year to ban single-use plastic straws in its eateries, according to Greenpeace.