California Bill Would Make Straws Illegal

Proposal would ban restaurants from giving out a straw to patrons, unless they ask for one.

January 30, 2018

MCLEAN, Va. – Proposed legislation in California would ban restaurant servers from giving patrons a plastic straw unless requested, reports USA Today. The bill also carries the threat of a $1,000 fine or jail time.

Citing environmental reasons, Assemblyman Ian Calderon said his bill is not intended to outright ban plastic drinking straws. “We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans. ...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,” he said in a statement.

Calderon says in his statement that an estimated 500 million straws are used in the United States every day: “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 U.S. 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 6th most common item collected.”

USA Today writes that Calderon's proposal is not new. An ordinance was adopted last year in Davis, California, where dine-in restaurants must ask customers if they want a straw.

And Calderon's is not the only bill targeting drinking plastics. Assembly Bill 319 would require all single-use plastic bottles to have their caps tethered or otherwise affixed.