Disposable Paper Straws – Demand Rises in CA and FL

Around the world, people have wrestled with the environmental effect of plastics, which do not naturally degrade and are frequently used once before settling in landfills, clogging storm drains or collecting in the ocean, often for long periods of time. Many countries have banned, limited or taxed the use of plastic bags. Now they’re banning single use plastic straws.   That’s resulted in a surge in demand for paper straws.

The latest is US cities who have taken an eco-friendly initiative to ban plastic straws the latest is Malibu, Calif. Before that came SeattleDavis and San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and Miami Beach and Fort Myers, Fla. They’re all cities that have banned or limited the use of plastic straws in restaurants. That means demand for paper straws have soared recently.  Straws, routinely placed in glasses of water or soda, represent a small percentage of the plastic that’s produced and consumed but often end up on beaches and in oceans.  Paper straws wont over stay their welcome tho – as they disintegrate within 90 days. 

Advocates said laws aimed at cutting back on the use of plastic straws, or even offering paper straws can help spur more significant behavioral changes. For example, on-demand offering of plastic straws is now in the conversation across California cities.  Measures are being considered in other coastal cities, including Berkeley, Calif. A bevy of restaurants across the country have also voluntarily stopped providing straws.  “I think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the plastic problem,” said Diana Lofflin, the founder of StrawFree.org, an activist organization based in San Diego.  Also based in San Diego, is OKSTRAW – to learn more about us, click here.  “Giving up plastic straws is a small step, and an easy thing for people to get started on. From there, we can move on to larger projects.”  A way to side step this, is to offer paper straws as an alternative.


Santa Barbara Straw Ban – City Council Bans Plastics

The Santa Barbara Straw Ban was enacted after city council voted 6-1 to ban the use of plastic straws, stirrers and other cutlery items, earlier this month.  This Santa Barbara Straw Ban was the second attempt to enforce a plastics ban across the city. The first Santa Barbara Straw Ban was a failure, due to criminal implications of violating the law.  After a barrage of criticism from national media outlets, the city removed the potential misdemeanor penalty associated with violations of the law. “We removed all of the criminal language from the ordinance,” said Environmental Services Manager Rene Eyerly.  The Santa Barbara straw ban is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1.

The move comes after AB 1884, statewide legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which mandates business owners to provide plastic straws on a demand-only basis at full-service restaurants.  A half step towards a full blow ban against straws.

The Santa Barbara Straw Ban is following the lead of nine other cities in California, including Santa Monica, Malibu and Manhattan Beach, that have banned single-use plastic straws or have made them on-demand only. The ordinance will help the city meet its stormwater compliance requirements.

The council in August first voted to ban the plastic straws, but delayed a final vote until Tuesday so that it could take a closer look at the ordinance. Restaurants that provided the plastic straws would be subject to a warning notice followed by a possible administrative penalty of “$100 or $250.

Councilman Randy Rowse voted against the ordinance. He said that the city doesn’t need a law to force people not to use plastic straws. He said the city passed a no-smoking ban on the beach and people can still find cigarette butts on the beach.   He added that most people already agree that single-use plastic straws are not necessary so there’s no need to ban them.  For more information on other straw bans, click here.

Kirkland Paper Straws – Plastic Ban Hit’s Seattle Sister City

The Kirkland council is currently creating a report on banning plastic straws and utensils, as well as Styrofoam food containers. This is all part of a pattern in which a bit of Seattle envy takes over, causing Kirkland to try to mimic any Seattle idea.  Kirkland paper straws are stirring a bit of controversy, amongst local council members.

For context, on July 1, Seattle became the first major city in the U.S. to enact a plastic straw and utensil ban. Nothing as dramatic as raids or fines occurred. Instead, the city is working with restaurants and bars to make the transition. Kirkland paper straws would have the same effect.

The council is currently creating a report on banning plastic straws and utensils, as well as Styrofoam food containers. A similar ban occurred on plastic bags.  Part of that report found that two-thirds of Kirkland residents opposed the ban, and yet a plastic bag ban was enacted anyway. It’s pretty clear we’re on that same path with straws

Opponents claim the plastic bans in general are the wrong course. The non-plastic alternatives are much more intensive in terms of energy and water and other resources they take to produce. Kirkland paper straws would cost more in the short term, while allegedly saving in the long term.  They claim we are much better off using our resources to help those countries create good, solid waste management systems rather than banning straws here,


Kirkland paper straws seem like a tough sell, as opponent suggest to not just automatically give people straws. They claim to let folks ask for a straw; make it a voluntary system. It doesn’t need to be government enforced, imposing the notion that these few people on the city council are wiser than everybody else. This mentality has been adopted by by Washington’s southern neighbor, California.