Seattle is now leading the way among the major cities in the U.S. when it comes to banning single-use plastic straws and utensils. The city has implemented the ban that has started with the "Strawless in Seattle" campaign from last year, in an effort to cut down on the plastic waste the city generates every day.
The city in Washington state had prepared for eventually phasing out plastic straws and other smaller plastic items, with more than 150 restaurants taking part in a "Strawless in Seattle" drive in 2017, according to the Independent.
The campaign saw the number of plastic straws being thrown out into Seattle's solid waste system drop by about 2.3 million pieces. The new ban now covers the 5,000 or so restaurants and establishments, which are now providing customers with paper straws and utensils instead.
"Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world's oceans, and I'm proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban," Mami Hara, the general manager of Seattle Public Utilities, said about the new policy as quoted by Komo news.
Establishments who still provide plastic straws and utensils could now face a penalty of $250, and now that manufacturers have stepped up by supplying compostable or paper straws and utensils, exemptions to the new rule will not be given this time.
"Our goal for the next year is to help all restaurants, food trucks, and food service operations shift away from plastic to compostable food serviceware," Hara explained. Seattle has been steadily working on reducing its plastic pollution since 2008.
According to estimates from the National Park Services, Americans use and dispose of an estimated 500 million straws every day. Aside from paper straws, environmental groups have also suggested using alternatives like bamboo or metal utensils.