Plastic straws are now banned in Seattle

Seattle has officially banned restaurants from giving customers plastic straws with their drinks for environmental reasons, becoming the first major USA city to do so.

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. Since there are now "multiple manufacturers of approved compostable utensils and straws", those items' plastic counterparts will no longer get a pass, the city said in its notice. Plastic utensils and cocktail picks have also been outlawed, reports CNBC. Restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks, and cafeterias can now switch to compostable paper or plastic straws.

"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.

About 10 years ago, Seattle banned all noncompostable or nonrecyclable one-time-use food service items, but made an exception for straws and utensils because of a lack of viable alternatives at the time. Maybe you've seen that video of the sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nostril, or read about the whale that died after eating a plastic DVD case. "Then, a customer should be given a compostable option", writes Fox News.

The National Park Service estimates 500 million straws are used by Americans each day.

California's Legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws. But because of the market, plastic utensils and straws have been exempted in Seattle's ban until now, the newspaper reported.

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