Seattle Straw Ban Takes Effect

City is largest U.S. locality to prohibit plastic utensils and straws in restaurants.

July 03, 2018

SEATTLE – The Emerald City became even greener on July 1, when Seattle’s ban on nondegradable plastic straws and utensils officially kicked in, the Washington Post reports. Until last week plastic straws and utensils had been exempt from a 10-year-old city ordinance requiring restaurants to use only recyclable or compostable food-service items.

Restaurants that violate of the ban could be subject to a $250 fine. Straws that are compostable—either paper or plastic—still are allowed. Last year 200 city restaurants voluntarily replaced plastic straws with degradable alternatives as part of the “Strawless in Seattle” campaign.

Seattle is the first major U.S. city to ban straws. San Francisco and New York are considering similar ordinances; a few localities already have enacted bans, and the California General Assembly also is considering a proposal that would forbid plastic bags and straws across the state.

At the corporate level, Starbucks has introduced strawless lids for its Nitro Cold Brew. As reported in the NACS Daily, McDonald’s is eliminating plastic straws in the U.K. and Ireland, and Alaska Airlines recently indicated it would no longer hand out plastic drink stirrers on flights. Last month, Ikea, Royal Caribbean and SeaWorld said they will ban plastic bags and straws.

An estimated 500 million disposable plastic straws are used and thrown away in the United States, every day, according to Eco-Cycle, a Boulder, Colorado-based nonprofit recycler.