Seattle Bans Plastic Straws, Utensils and Cocktail Picks

CC BY 2.0. karen2754 -- A view of the plastic disposable straws that currently clog our oceans at a rate of 500 million per day in the USA

Strawless in Seattle is now officially enshrined into law.

When restaurants in Seattle gave up straws for a month, they prevented 2 million plastic straws from being given out—some of which would undoubtedly have made their way into the ocean.

But as a voluntary initiative, it was merely a temporary reprieve.

Now, however, Seattle has enacted an outright ban on plastic straws, cocktail picks and plastic utensils too. As CNBC reports, as of last Sunday, food service businesses will have to provide customers with paper and/or compostable plastic alternatives for these items, or face the possibility of a $250 fine.

It's worth noting, of course, that compostable PLA plastic (usually corn-based) is not actually that much better than regular plastic in most situations, given the fact that it only breaks down in dedicated, high-heat composting facilities. Nevertheless, this is a welcome first step, and hopefully should result in significantly fewer single-use plastic items ending up in our waterways.

Meanwhile, New York State has a bill on the way that would mandate restaurants only distribute plastic straws on request.