California considers plastic straw fines for restaurants

31st January, 2018 by Amy Hopkins

The fight against plastic is gaining momentum as a California politician proposes new legislation that could see restaurants fined for providing guests with plastic straws if they have not been requested.

The bill would ban restaurants from providing customers with plastic straws unless requested

Democratic assemblyman Ian Calderon has proposed a bill (Assembly Bill 1884) that would force dine-in restaurants to have a ‘straws-upon-request’ policy.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” he said.

“AB 1884 is not ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”

If passed, the bill would add a section to California’s Health and Safety Code. People who violate the code face a fine of US$25-US$1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months.

“An estimated 500 million straws are used in the United States every day,” added Calderon. “This number is enough to fill over 127 school buses each day and is calculated to be about 1.6 straws per person in the US.

“In a summary of all trash collected as part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day between 1989 and 2014, straws and stirrers rank as the sixth most common item collected. AB 1884 is a step toward lowering these alarming figures and is a simple way for consumers to change their plastic use behaviour.”

A swathe of drinks industry groups have taken a stance against plastic straws, including the Scotch Whisky Association, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi.

Earlier this month, Scottish member of Parliament Kate Forbes called for a UK-wide ban on plastic straws in her Final Straw campaign.

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