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Santa Barbara City Council approves ban on plastic straws


On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will effectively ban plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery in the city.

The ordinance includes the following:

Sale or distribution of plastic beverage straws prohibited It shall be unlawful for any beverage provider or food provider to provide plastic cutlery or plastic stirrers to any person being served a beverage or prepared food for consumption on the premises of the beverage provider or food provider or to be taken away from the premises of the beverage provider or food provider unless the beverage provider or food provider first asks that person whether they want to receive the plastic cutlery or plastic stirrer and the person responds that he or she does.

For more information on the plastic straw ban, click here.

The council also approved a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) disposable food containers and products in a 6-1 vote. That ordinance includes the following:

Expanded polystyrene disposable food containers prohibited. Required biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable disposable food containers. It shall be unlawful for any vendor or events promoter in the city to sell or otherwise provide any expanded polystyrene product which is not wholly encapsulated COUNCIL INTRODUCTION DRAFT 7/17/18 5 or encased within a more durable material.

For more information on the Styrofoam food container ban, click here.

Both of these ordinances will go into effect January 1, 2019.

Plastic drinking straws are about to go the way of plastic bags in another Central Coast city with the Santa Barbara City Council to consider an ordinance banning the use of plastic straws in the city.

More and more local governments, businesses and global corporations are acknowledging plastic straws are a menace to the environment.

It’s estimated as many as 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away every day.

The non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic straws often fall between the cracks and wind up in local waterways, beaches and in the ocean.

Plastic straws are considered a growing threat to marine life and marine ecosystems.

The City of San Luis Obispo passed a plastics ordinance that bans single-use of plastic bottles, cups and straws with plastic straws available only on request.

The City of Santa Barbara is considering a similar ordinance.

“Part of phasing out all these petroleum, plastic-based items is to find suitable alternatives”, said Becca Fong with the Seattle Utilities Commission which has helped lead the growing campaign to eliminate plastic straws and single-use plastic items from the planet,

“Starbucks announcement to phase out single-use, plastic straws by 2020 is enormous, and its not just locally, company-wide they’ve made that announcement”, Fong said, “McDonald’s has been looking into paper-straw alternatives, we should be seeing that in all their U.S. stores later this year, that’s amazing. When businesses step into that fold to really take the lead from government that says we don’t want these things in our waste-stream, it’s awesome, everybody wins.”

Not everyone is in favor of banning plastic straws including those with physical disabilities that rely on longer, flexible plastic straws to consume hot and cold beverages.

The Santa Barbara City Council meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. at Santa Barbara City Hall.

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