Breaking! California Becomes 1st State To Ban Full-Service Restaurants From Automatically Handing Out Plastic Straws

Governor Jerry Brown signed another historic bill into legislation yesterday, making California the first state to ban full-service restaurants from handing out single-use plastic straws to customers unless they request one.

Full-service restaurants can still hand out paper or metal straws unprompted by customers. Violators can face a $25.00 fine per day after two warnings.

As per Fox5 News, sadly the California law which will begin on January 1, 2019, does not apply to fast food restaurants or convenience stores, yet.

Brown sent a letter to members of the California State assembly to inform them of his decision to sign AB 1884, which was initiated by Assemblymember Ian Calderon of Whittier.

“By 2015, the annual global production of plastic reached 448 million tons. Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences. Ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year,” Brown stated in a letter to the Members of the California State Assembly, pointing to a recent example of a dead pilot whale recovered in Thailand, with 80 plastic bags in its stomach. “Nor are humans immune as micro plastics were recently found in tap water around the world. Plastics in all forms, including: straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc., are choking our planet.”

While California banned free single use plastic bags in 2014, Brown, though he called the new ruling a small step, believes it provides another opportunity to make more people pause and consider an alternative to plastic.

“I am thankful to Governor Brown for signing AB 1884,” said Majority Leader Calderon in a statement. “By removing the default behavior of providing straws with every drink, consumers have an opportunity to make a deliberate, small change, that will minimize the harmful impacts of single use plastic straws in the environment. It’s a small but significant step forward and will hopefully set the precedent for the rest of the nation to adopt similar policies that will ensure less plastic ends up harming the environment.”

As per Calderon, the California Coastal Commission has recorded roughly 835,425 straws that were picked up from our beaches between 1988 and 2014. Straws are the 6th most common item found during organized beach cleanups. However, this data doesn’t include straws picked up inland or around California’s lakes and waterways.

Plastic waste discarded into the environment damages ecosystems and marine animals, as well as contaminates our food supply. Evidence now shows that food and drinks meant for human consumption are contaminated with plastic. For example, researchers at UC Davis found that one-quarter of the fish from markets in California and Indonesia contained plastic debris.

Currently, there is no statewide law regarding the distribution of straws at dine-in, full service establishments. However, the cities of Malibu and Davis have adopted city-wide ordinances implementing straw-upon-request policies. Several cities, such as Berkeley and Los Angeles, are currently exploring the same proposals. The bill preserves the authority of cities to enact more stringent local ordinances.

Recently, the European Commission proposed a ban on a multitude of single-use plastic items, including straws, in order to reduce marine pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

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