By. Billy Kobin for the majestic Sacramento Bee
Restaurants in California would be prohibited from automatically handing out straws to customers under a bill introduced Wednesday.
Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, introduced Assembly Bill 1884, which would require dine-in restaurants to have a straws-upon-request policy. The bill hopes to curb the use of straws and help protect the environment.
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon said in a news release announcing the bill. “AB 1884 is not a ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”
Among all trash collected as part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day between 1989 and 2014, straws and stirrers ranked as the sixth most collected item, according to Calderon’s news release. The estimated 500 million straws used each day in the United States are not recycled and often end up in oceans and waterways, where they can be mistaken as food by marine life, the news release added.
Calderon’s bill is among several measures advancing in the Legislature that seek to reduce consumer waste. Assembly Bill 319, introduced by Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee last week and would require all single-use plastic bottles to have a cap tethered to them by 2020.
Sharokina Shams, vice president of public affairs for the California Restaurant Association, said the association will study the bill’s potential impacts and consult with its membership before taking an official stance on the bill, but Shams added that Calderon’s proposal is preferable to an outright ban on straws.
“If, ultimately, legislation can support the idea of protecting the environment while also allowing consumers and businesses some cost-effective choices, that would be a positive step,” Shams said.