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Seattle's ban on plastic straws, utensils goes into effect July 1

Seattle is about to become the first city in the country to ban plastic utensils and straws in restaurants and take-outs, starting July 1. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - Seattle is about to become the first city in the country to ban plastic utensils and straws in restaurants and take-outs, starting July 1.

In preparation, environmentalists onboard Greenpeace’s icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise currently docked in Seattle, praised city leaders on Tuesday.

“Seattle is really setting the tone for what needs to happen, which is a ban of all single use plastics products,” said Kate Melges, an ocean campaigner for Greenpeace USA.

Technically, the ban has been in place since 2010, but the city issued a waiver for businesses because paper and biodegradable utensils and straws at that time, could not match the effectiveness of their plastic counter parts.

RELATED | Group of elementary school students on a mission to rid the world of plastic straws

But one year ago, the city decided technology has improved the biodegradable versions and the cost effectiveness is now closer to what restaurants pay for plastic ones.

“We did it because it's the right thing to do,” said founder and owner of Duke’s Seafood & Chowder, Duke Moscrip. “We only have one earth and if we do our part, we can clean it up.”

Supporters of the ban claim 500 million plastic straws make it into the world’s oceans every year.

Ivar’s buys one million straws a year for its restaurants. It’s president, Bob Donegan, who is also the Chairman of the Board for the Seattle Aquarium, has been a supporter of the ban.

His has been testing out various plastic alternatives with staff and customers for the last year.

“They are not perfect, but they are much better than before,” said Donegan.

He showed off a large, biodegradable straw he plans to use in the chain’s Kidd Valley restaurants that won’t ‘self-destruct’ when sucking down a thick milk shake.

“So we are using gigantic straws for Kidd Valley, you can suck a bowling ball with this thing it’s so big,” said Donegan.

The straw costs Donegan 18-cents each, compared to 3-cents for the plastic one that customers currently use.

He said all the manufacturers he is using to meet the ban are in China. The boat with all the items will arrive on July 22nd.

Any establishment that serve food and/or drinks in Seattle must use compostable alternatives by July 1. Grocery stores are still allowed to sell plastic utensils and straws.

The city of Seattle said the law does allow businesses to provide plastic bendable straws to disabled persons who may require them.

The Portland City Council is expected to pass a similar ban on Wednesday.

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