San Francisco is considering banning plastic straws.
In San Francisco, plastic drinking straws could soon be going the way of non-reusable shopping bags and Styrofoam containers — that is to say, strictly prohibited within city limits.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Katy Tang is expected to roll out legislation that would count San Francisco among the growing list of cities seeking to cut down on environmentally noxious litter by prohibiting restaurants, bars and coffee shops from stuffing plastic straws, stirrers or cocktail sticks into the drinks they serve.
The ubiquitous plastic straw has become the focus in recent years of increasingly intense scrutiny from environmental advocates and policymakers, who have raised concerns about the huge amounts of plastic, single-use food-ware products ending up in landfills and the oceans.
“It’s sort of this moment where everyone is realizing just how many straws people are using on a daily basis, and that we really need to get a handle on this, or else our environment is going to suffer,” Tang said.
Both San Luis Obispo and Davis enacted similar ordinances last year that require restaurants to ask dine-in customers if they want a single-use straw before providing one. A ban similar to Tang’s will go into effect in Malibu on June 1, and a planned prohibition of plastic straws and utensils will kick in this July in Seattle. British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a nationwide prohibition on plastic straws last month.
Berkeley officials are considering a broader waste-reduction ordinance that would put a 25-cent surcharge on disposable cups and containers, and make paper straws free upon request. A proposed statewide law introduced by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier (Los Angeles County), would make single-use plastic straws available by request only.
Banning plastic straws and replacing them with compostable paper ones or reusable alternatives represents a straightforward way to change consumer behavior with a minimal impact on the city’s food-service industry, Tang said.