California House Leader Proposes a Ban on Restaurants Offering Unsolicited Straws

By Owen Heimsoth | CALIFORNIA

If AB-1884 passes through Congress in California, your waiter or waitress will not be able to offer you a straw.

The assembly bill reads, “This bill would prohibit a food facility, as specified, where food may be consumed on the premises from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless requested by the consumer. By creating a new crime and imposing additional enforcement duties on local health agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”

Regarding potential fines, it says “Existing law requires, except as otherwise provided, a person who violates any provision of the code to be guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both.”

The rest of the bill can be found here.

Voleck Taing, a senior assistant to Assemblyman Calderon, had an interview with Reason and said they intend to amend the bill to remove the fines. A ban on offering straws would remain.

This bill was proposed by Rep. Ian Calderon. He is the Democratic majority leader of California’s lower house.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” stated Majority Leader Calderon.  “AB 1884 is not 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.”

It is unknown how many straws end up in waterways, but the California Coastal Commission during its annual Coastal Cleanup Day found a total of 835,425 straws and stirrers since 1988, or about 4.1 percent of debris collected.

The National Parks Service “The Be Straw Free Campaign” stated that Americans use 500 million drinking straws a day. It is obviously unknown about how many of these appear in waterways each day.

At 9 years old, Milo Cress started this campaign saying, “Plastic straws are made of our dwindling oil resource, and simply by offering them instead of serving one with every drink automatically, we can reduce our consumption in half or more.” He also added that 50 to 80 percent of people decline a straw when offered, but this cannot be confirmed.

This isn’t the first time this idea has been thrown around. San Luis Obispo and Davis cities in California have made a similar ban and up in Seattle, restaurants won’t be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils as of July.

Image from Berkleyside.