Plastic straws on request ordinance takes effect in LA 

If you need a straw while dining in Los Angeles, you’ll need to ask for one, thanks to a new ordinance aimed at reducing single-use plastic waste. 

The ‘Plastic Straws on Request’ ordinance, which requires businesses to withhold plastic beverage straws unless a customer requests them, went into effect on Monday, April 22 for sit-down restaurants and fast food chains with more than 26 employees. At drive-thru restaurants, the customer will be notified to ask for a straw if needed. 

The city’s ordinance expands on a California law that was implemented on January 1, which says diners have to ask for a straw at full-service restaurants, but does not apply to fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, or take-out restaurants. 

“The new city law picks up where the state law stops,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who introduced the ordinance last year along with Councilmember Nury Martinez. “As a coastal city and state, we owe it to our environment to do everything in our power to ensure we reduce single-use plastic waste. This could not have been accomplished without collaboration with our city departments, our environmental advocates, and our business community, many of whom are already taking steps to find alternatives to plastic straws.”

The ordinance, which was passed unanimously by LA City Council in March, also requires all other food and beverage facilities to comply by October 1. 

Business that violate the ordinance will receive warnings for the first two violations, and will face a $25 fine for the third and each subsequent violation. The fine will be imposed for each day the establishment is in violation but shall not exceed $300 per calendar year. 

A recent report indicates that Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws each day. Worldwide, plastic straws are among the top 10 marine debris items according to environmental advocacy group, Ocean Conservancy. 

“Plastic straws are one of the top items our volunteers find at beach cleanups in Los Angeles County,” said Shelley Luce, president and chief executive officer of Heal the Bay. “We’re thrilled to support the roll out of a comprehensive solution that not only reduces single-use plastic pollution from winding up in our environment, but also ensures that anyone who needs a straw can still have access to one.”

The next phase of the initiative is already underway, with the City’s Department on Disability convening meetings with the disabled community to discuss future expansion of the program. (AJPress) 

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