THE FINAL STRAW: Seattle Bans Plastic Straws, Knives, Forks

  • THE FINAL STRAW: Seattle Bans Plastic Straws, Knives, Forks

THE FINAL STRAW: Seattle Bans Plastic Straws, Knives, Forks

Don't sip the Kool-Aid: Banning plastic straws is no way to save the environment.

Q: What happens if businesses don't comply?

As the threats posed by plastic straws, utensils and other small plastic items have become clearer, environmental groups have made a broad push for cities to curtail their use through legislation. Since there are now "multiple manufacturers of approved compostable utensils and straws", those items' plastic counterparts will no longer get a pass, the city said in its notice.

In addition to restaurants, the plastic straw and utensils ban also applies to delis, coffee shops, food trucks, cafeterias and grocery stores, the Seattle Times reports.

With 5,000 food service providers in the area, Seattle is the first major city in the U.S.to enact such a ban, KIRO-TV reported.

Seattle Public Utilities says a 2008 ordinance has phased out various plastic products from the food industry. Seattle Public Utilities exempted plastic utensils and straws due to a lack of compostable alternatives.

California's Legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws. If they end up in the ocean, they're just as likely to harm sea creatures as plastic ones.

Bon Appétit Management Company became the first US food service company earlier this year to ban single-use plastic straws in its eateries, according to Greenpeace.

According to the Strawless Ocean campaign, straws can ruin loads of recycling because a lot of them aren't heavy enough to make it through industrial recycling sorters. The success of that effort, the campaign said, coincided with the city's announcement that a plastic straw and utensil ban would go into effect in July.

More than 200 restaurants in the city voluntarily adopted the ban a year ago, stopping millions of straws from entering the waste stream, according to the Lonely Whale Foundation, an environmental group running the "Strawless in Seattle" campaign.