California Is the First State to Stop Offering Plastic Straws in Restaurants
The ban goes into effect in January 2019.
California residents only have a few months to stock up on metal straws.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1884 on Thursday, making the state the first in the US to officially ban restaurants from automatically giving customers plastic straws, Business Insider reports.
Effective in January 2019, customers will have to ask for plastic straws if they want one while dining out.
"Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences," Governor Brown wrote in a statement.
As the importance of sustainability becomes part of the global collective consciousness, banning single-use plastics in business that serve food is slowly catching on as a simple way to reduce waste.
More than 380 million tons of plastic are produced each year and most of it isn’t disposed of properly: As much as 13 million tons of such waste ends up in the world’s ocean, where it’s a serious threat to marine life. Humans aren’t safe from plastic either—they end up eating around 70,000 microplastic fibers every year.
But California has been ahead of the single-use plastics curve for some time. The state started prohibiting plastic bags in 2016. Now, beginning in 2019, San Francisco restaurants and bars will stop automatically supplying any plastic items including stirrers, and toothpicks in addition to straws.
Other places in the country aren’t too far behind when it comes to taking action against plastic pollution. Seattle became the first US city to outlaw plastic straws and utensils in restaurants back in July.
Plastic straws are building a bad reputation around the world, too. In February, Taiwan banned plastic straws, and Queen Elizabeth II stopped allowing them on her estate. Jamaica announced its plan to restrict single-use plastic just last week.
Still, while reducing the ubiquity of single-use plastics benefits the environment, the plastic straw ban has met its fair share of criticism. Some conservatives weren’t thrilled when major companies like Starbucks hopped on the trend.
In fact, eliminating plastic straws entirely isn’t the best option for all consumers. Bills like California’s, that keep plastic straws available by request, help accommodate people with disabilities who rely on them to drink beverages while eating out.