Delaware the Newest State to Pass Plastic Bag Ban

We at OkStraw are excited to announce that Delaware is the newest state to pass a plastic bag ban. Governor John Carney signed House Bill 130 into law on July 29th, which takes effect on January 1st, 2021. Governor Carney also signed in Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 5. SB5 will increase fines for illegal dumping, and establish a Litter Investigation and Enforcement Fund. 

Delaware’s plastic bag ban is the result of Carney’s Keep DE Litter Free, and anti-pollution activists like Dee Durham. Durham is the co-founder of Plastic Free Delaware, and began her fight for a plastic bag ban over a decade ago. OkStraw Paper Straws would like to congratulate Delaware on its fight against plastic waste.

Plastic bags are the fourth most commonly found form of litter around the world

Plastic straws and plastic bags are extremely harmful to marine animals.

According to Durham, less than 10 percent of single-use plastic bags are recycled. The  rest end up in the landfill, on roads, or in waters. According to State Senator Stephanie Hansen, plastic bags are the fourth most commonly found form of litter around the world. Unlike paper bags and paper straws, plastic bags and plastic straws never go away. Once they enter the environment, they are extremely difficult or even impossible to remove. Delaware’s plastic bag ban is a great first step to mitigate this environmental disaster.

Activist Dee Dunham is exploring a plastic straw ban as the next step in her fight against plastic waste. As plastic straw ban and plastic bag bans often go hand-in-hand, this is a natural step to take. Switching from plastic straws to paper straws and bags is one of the easiest ways to lower plastic waste. With high quality paper straw offerings from companies like OkStraw, it’s even easier.

Many Delawareans are already making the switch before the plastic bag ban

On January 1st of 2021, Delawareans will join the other 55 percent of the world’s population, who live under a plastic bag ban. Many Delawareans are already making the switch before the plastic bag ban, going paper or reusable. Citizen participation shows promise for more changes. Delaware could be one step closer to moving away from plastic straws, and switching to more sustainable paper straws.

When the plastic bag ban goes into law, Delaware will join states like New York, Hawaii and California. If Delaware’s fight against plastic waste succeeds, the state could be the first to have a full plastic straw ban. For now, other states have only banned restaurants from handing out straws, unless requested. A full plastic straw ban could make Delaware a small state with a big impact on the Midatlantic region, and the rest of America. Should this happen, the future for the paper straw in its birth region looks bright.

LRA Expo 2019

OkStraw Paper Straws is excited to announce that it will be exhibiting at the Louisiana Restaurants Association (LRA) EXPO 2019, located at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, from August 3rd through the 5th. Attendees can find us at Booth 1107. 

We at OkStraw are proud to showcase the newest offerings in our ever-growing range of paper straws. Among these newest items are our 4-ply boba tea paper straws and 4-ply spoon paper straws. These new 4-ply paper straws are the toughest and most durable yet, and are a sure to be a hit among customers.

The Louisiana Restaurants Association EXPO is the biggest and most attended restaurant and hospitality trade show of its kind in the region, where business owners and representatives restaurant and hospitality establishments from across the U.S. will convene. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet exhibitors face-to-face, and forge new partnerships.

LRA was founded in 1946 to advocate for Louisiana’s restaurant and food service businesses among elected officials, and since then the organization carries a reputation as a peer leader among other states’ organizations. LRA today has 9 chapters across the State of Louisiana, with thousands of businesses as members.


With more states and cities placing bans on single-use plastic straws, the demand for high quality paper straws at wholesale restaurant pricing has never been greater.

LRA EXPO 2019 will be OkStraw’s debut at the event, but it most certainly will not be our last. With more states and cities placing bans on single-use plastic straws, the demand for high quality paper straws at restaurant wholesale pricing has never been greater. OkStraw has previously exhibited at the 2019 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York, and the 2019 International Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.

We at OkStraw are excited to build rapport with owners and representatives of restaurants, hotels and cafes from across the country. With competitive wholesale paper straw deals and custom designs available to suit your establishment’s needs, we are here to deliver service as strong as our straws. 

Washington, D.C.’s Plastic Straw Ban Now in Effect

Washington, D.C. has become the latest in a growing number of cities to outlaw plastic straws. The ban’s grace period ban officially ended on July 1st, and follows a 9-year-old nickel bag tax, and a 3-year-old ban on plastic food containers. Businesses in the District will now have to switch from plastic straws to biodegradable alternatives such as paper straws, or face fines ranging from $100 to $800.

This plastic straw ban took effect over a three-step process. The first step came when the ban became law on October 1st last year, whereby the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) gave a January 1st deadline for businesses to get rid of plastic straws. The second step took place on January 1st, when the DOEE issued warnings for noncompliance. The third and final process began on July 1st, when DC began issuing fines for violations.

So far, D.C. 's plastic straw ban seems to succeed in accommodating people with disabilities.

In order to enforce this ban, the DOEE will conduct inspections at businesses throughout the District; the DOEE conducted similar inspections following the District’s polystyrene takeout container ban. These compliance inspections will occur throughout the year. Customers can tip the DOEE about businesses regularly serving plastic straws instead of legal alternatives like paper straws.

DC will however allow restaurants to carry a limited supply of plastic straws, in order to serve disabled customers who still need to use these straws. These plastic straws will be handed out only by request, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Soon, this exception won’t be necessary, because companies like OkStraw already make paper straw for everyone’s needs.

Washington D.C’s single-use plastic straw ban has so far been met with positive feedback from local businesses

Washington, D.C. has a long history with the drinks straw. It was in the District where in 1888, Marvin Chester Stone received the first patent for a paper straw design, and made the product locally. Over time however, Stone’s biodegradable paper straw became the bendable plastic straw that cannot decompose. Stone’s invention deserves the spotlight, and OkStraw Paper Straws hopes to do him proud.

Washington D.C’s single-use plastic straw ban has so far been met with positive feedback from local businesses. In fact, a number of D.C. businesses phased out plastic straws before the ban went into effect. Establishments like the Greek chain Cava used paper straws for over a year. OkStraw is excited to hear about these early adopters, and their push to take the initiative by switching to paper straws.

paper straw inventor

Paper Straws Compliant with D.C.'s Ban

For businesses and residents in the District, finding a legal alternative is easy as can be. That’s because OkStraw Paper Straws is ready to serve D.C. with our high quality, DOEE-compliant paper straws. OkStraw’s paper straws are certified biodegradable, and are made from foodgrade, organic paper dyes, paper and glue. Our catalog includes ADA-compliant bendy paper straws, Boba Tea paper straws, spoon paper straws and in any custom print option you want. An OkStraw Paper Straw will be the object of envy for every DOEE straw inspector. 

Washington, D.C.’s plastic straw ban follows cities such as Monmouth Beach, New Jersey; Miami Beach, Florida; Seattle, Washington, and a number of coastal cities in California and Florida. A plastic straw ban in the U.S.’s capital city carries the powerful message that the fight against plastic waste is a thoroughly American fight. We at OkStraw welcome our fellow Americans in Washington, D.C. to the Cause for Paper Straws!

OkStraw Paper Straws: Why Choose Us?

The paper straw market is on fire, with many new companies grabbing for a piece of the pie. With so many competing options in this booming, you might be overwhelmed. Are all paper straws the same? What should I look for in a quality paper straw? Do materials matter? And how do I know I am getting a good deal? 

At OkStraw, we take the guessing work out, and streamline this buying process. OkStraw offers a wide selection of quality products, and a quick and responsive team to walk you through the buying process. At OkStraw, we strive to provide service as strong as our paper straws.

We at OkStraw Paper Straws take no shortcuts with our straws. Some competitors manufacture their paper straws with low-grade cardboard, but we make our paper straws multiple layers of high-weight paper. This manufacturing gives our paper straws a more durable design that will not snap in half or pinch shut. We know that first impressions can change people’s opinions about paper straws forever.


OkStraw’s paper straws are available in both 3-ply and 4-ply thickness. Our 3-ply option is ideal for customers seeking a balance of strength and economy. 3-ply is the industry standard, but thanks to our manufacturing, OkStraw’s 3-plies have superior strength. 4-ply paper straws from OkStraw are our premium option, offering unparalleled performance. In fact, OkStraw’s 4-ply paper straws are rated to last over 5 hours while submerged in drinks. When you buy an paper straw from OkStraw, you buy a product that punches way above its pricepoint.


OkStraw’s 4-ply paper straws are rated to last over 5 hours while submerged in drinks.

We at OkStraw make our paper straws from biodegradable, organic kraft paper, oils and glues. We don’t use wax or chemicals that could prevent our straws from composting properly. We will never compromise our sustainability pledge in the name of cost cutting. 

Making fully biodegradable but tough paper straws was no easy task, but we believe it was the only way. We source our paper from a sustainably managed forest, and we comply with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Sustainable Forest Iniative (SFI). OkStraw also complies with FDA, EU and German BfF food safety regulations.

OkStraw designs and manufactures its own products.

Lastly, OkStraw designs and manufactures its own paper straws. This means that OkStraw clients have the choice of specifying custom designs, colors, graphics for their paper straws. Additionally, OkStraw clients have shorter lead times than they would with competitors. We can accomplish all of this because we do not outsource our production to third party manufacturers.

With more plastic straw bans coming, finding a sustainable, quality and affordable alternative can be overwhelming. Rest easy, however, OkStraw is here for your service, with custom options, durable straws, and sustainable manufacturing. OkStraw Paper Straws is here to deliver the finishing blow to plastic straws once and for all. 

Madison, Wisconsin Could Be the Newest City to Restrict Plastic Straws

Madison, Wisconsin may soon be the latest city to ban or restrict plastic straws. Alderman Syed Abbas plans to introduce a bill to City Council, which would limit restaurants from handing out plastic straws. The law won’t ban plastic straws outright, but it’s a greater reason to make the switch to paper straws.

Under Ald, Abbas’s proposed law, customers in dine-in restaurants will need to specifically ask for a straw. Take-out and drive-thru restaurants will still be allowed to serve plastic straws, however. The proposed law doesn’t restrict paper straws, so restaurants will have plenty of alternatives. OkStraw is excited to see Madison making the switch to paper straws, and kicking plastic straws.

Ald. Abbas seeks mutually beneficial outcome for sustainability advocates, local businesses, and disability rights representatives.

Restaurants in other US cities are already switching to paper straws

Abbas explains that his plastic straw restriction aims to encourage people to be more cognizant about their straw use. If people don’t need a straw, then restaurants won’t simply hand them one. Once restaurants switch to paper straws, though, handing them out won’t be a problem.

Madison businesses and disability rights advocates so far support Ald. Abbas’ plan. Ald. Abbas has been working closely with people with disabilities, so they can have the straws they need. This won’t be an issue, however, thanks to OkStraw’s new ADA-compliant bendy paper straws. Our paper bendy straws are truly usable alternatives to plastic bendy straws, a huge leap forward for people with disabilities.

Madison's Plastic Straw Restriction is Part of a Truly American Fight

With more cities and states banning plastic straws, it’s time for Madison, Wisconsin to pass Ald. Abbas’ bill. This is no longer just a West and East Coast issue. Madison’s plastic straw restriction is part of a truly a American fight. With proposed bans in Minnesota and Chicago, now’s the perfect time for Madison to take the lead the Midwest battle against plastic straws. The next time you go to Madison, you might just see a paper straw served up in your glass of pop.

We at OkStraw are here to fight this fight with our biodegradable paper straws. Our inventory includes Boba Tea Paper Straws, ADA-compliant bendy paper straws, paper spoon straws, and any custom print you want. Thanks to OkStraw, Madison, Wisconsin will never want for high quality paper straws.

July Marks the 1-Year Anniversary of Seattle’s Plastic Straw Ban

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Seattle, Washington’s ban on single-use plastic straws. The ban took effect on July 1st, 2018, and was the first law of its kind implemented by a large metropolitan city in the US. Since then, more cities across the country have passed similar bans. 

Seattle’s plastic straw ban followed a 2008 ordinance that requires restaurants and food-service businesses to find biodegradable alternatives to plastic and polystyrene cups, plates, utensils, and takeout containers. With more than 5,000 businesses operating within the city limits required to make the switch from plastic to eco-friendly alternatives like paper straws, Seattle’s ban demonstrates that laws like this can work in larger cities.

Marine Pollution, Plastic Straws
Paper straws help prevent waste like this from polluting our shores

Seattle was until this month the most populated city to ban single-use plastic straws.

So far, most cities that passed plastic straw bans are smaller, such as Miami Beach, Florida and Santa Monica, California. The California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego voted to limit plastic straws from being freely handed out to customers at restaurants. These cities have not banned plastic straws outright, however, they simply limit access. Restaurants that want to hand out straws freely must use eco-friendly options like paper straws.

Seattle was until this month the most populated city in the US to ban single-use plastic straws, however it has now been surpassed by San Francisco, whose plastic straw ban took effect on July 1st. Last November, Chicago voted yes to a ballot asking whether the city should ban plastic straws. If Chicago’s City Council votes and approves a plastic straw ban, then the city of 2.7 million people will be the biggest in the country by far to implement such a law. Chicago could become America’s number one eco-friendly paper straw using metropolis.  

In the year following Seattle’s plastic straw ban, the US has seen a dramatic shift in public opinion against plastic straws.

Not only is Seattle’s 2018 single-use plastic straw ban leading the push for other cities to pass their own bans, it may even lead to the first full ban on plastic straws at the state level. Washington’s State Senator Patty Kuderer plans to introduce her bill, which will outlaw single-use plastic straws statewide by July 1st, 2020. If Olympia votes Senator Kuderer’s bill into law, then Washington will follow Oregon and California, making the entire West Coast of the United States plastic straw restrictive. “Paper Straw Belt” could soon be the new nickname for this part of the country. 

In the year following Seattle’s plastic straw ban, the US has seen a dramatic shift in public opinion against plastic straws. More cities are in the process of restricting plastic straws, including America’s three biggest cities: Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. With more states and cities passing bans and restrictions in the last few months, Seattle’s plastic straw ban has so far proven to be a successful major step in the fight against plastic waste.

Oregon Plastic Straw Ban – Oregon Passes Single-Use Plastic Straw Law

2020 Plastic Straw Ban is Here

Starting in January 2020, Oregon has banned restaurants and bars from using plastic straws. Paper Straws are an alternative.

Oregon has followed California in becoming the second US state to enact restrictions on single use plastic straws. The measure was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives on May 29th, 2019, with a winning margin of 48-12. The new law will ban restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws unless customers request one, similar to California’s law. Restaurants can still provide customers with paper strawsr.

Drive-thru restaurants and pharmacies will still be allowed to offer straws, however. Addressing reporters, Oregon governor Kate Brown voiced her support for the new ban, citing a need to raise public awareness of the effects single-use plastics have on the environment, and encourage people to make sustainable changes to their lifestyles. 

As residents of an eco-conscious destination like Oregon, we at OkStraw Paper Straws know plastic waste is an economic disaster. After all, who wants to go to an Oregon beach  or forest if it’s littered with plastic?

Paper Straws are Ecofriendly Alternative to Plastic
Oregon Governor Kate Brown
Oregon Capital Building

These new restrictions on single-use plastic straws are the start of Oregon’s fight to reduce plastic waste.

Paper straws are a far safer option for protecting marine animals
Support Sea Animals with this fun Variety Pack!

Plastic Straw Ban Measure Passed Both Houses in Oregon

On the floor of the Oregon House, lawmakers discussed a widely viewed YouTube video from 2015, which shows scientists removing a plastic straw lodged in a sea turtle’s nostril. Republican lawmakers in the House however opposed the measure, arguing that there was no evidence that proved plastic straws used by Oregon residents were harming birds and sea turtles, and that the ban would simply introduce more bureaucracy. 

Other Oregon House Republicans did not oppose the ban, however, arguing that it does not outright prohibit customers from requesting plastic straws. They also supported a clause in the legislation that prevents cities such as Portland from passing plastic straw bans that go further than the new state law. 

A number of environmentalists however did not support these two exceptions to the new plastic straw law. As a result, some groups withdrew their support for the bill. These new restrictions on single-use plastic straws are the start of Oregon’s fight to reduce plastic waste. In the weeks following the plastic straw bill, the State Senate passed a new ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, with a 5-cent fee on reusable plastic and paper bags.



Plastic straw bans can encourage people to make more sustainable adjustments to their lives

Oregon’s new partial ban on plastic straws comes at a pivotal time in the fight for sustainability. The World Economic Forum has projected that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in Earth’s oceans than fish. 

Laws such as California’s and now Oregon’s can serve to make residents more cognizant of using any plastic item only once, and then throwing it away without thought. For businesses serving single-use foodware, paper straws, paper plates and paper takeout containers are a far more sustainable alternative to their plastic counterparts.

While they may seem small in impact at first, plastic straw bans can encourage people to make more sustainable adjustments to their lives. When more people take small steps like switching from single-use plastic straws to eco-friendly alternatives like paper straws, they can make bigger changes to their lifestyles that will lead to a healthier planet. 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we encourage everyone to follow our lead, and ditch single-use plastics for biodegradable alternatives. We only use biodegradable, food grade materials to make our paper straws. From cocktails to bendy straws and boba bubble tea, there’s an OkStraw Paper Straw for every drink and everyone. So whether you’re out for drinks in Portland or sipping tea in Bend, ditch the plastic, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

South Australia Seeks New Single-Use Plastics Ban


The state of South Australia will soon lead the country’s fight against single-use plastic waste, with a new piece of legislation being proposed. Environment minister David Speirs announced on July 6th that the state’s ruling Liberal Party will draft a bill to ban plastic straws, cutlery and drink stirrers before the end of 2019. The party aims to submit the bill to the state’s parliament by 2020, where it can then be voted into law. If this bill becomes law, South Australia will be the first state in Australia to ban such single-use plastic items.

In addition to banning plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery, South Australia’s government is also looking to phase out plastic cups, polystyrene takeout containers and cups, and thicker reusable plastic bags. These proposed new bans are not South Australia’s first efforts at limiting single-use plastic waste. The state banned lightweight plastic bags in 2009, and since then, all but one Australian state has enacted the same bans. If passed, South Australia’s proposed restrictions on heavier reusable plastic bags will be the strictest in the country.

South Australia’s proposed bans on plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery is drawing praise from across the political aisle. Sarah Hanson-Young, a federal senator representing the Australian Greens, voiced her support for this legislation, citing the need to confront the country’s plastic waste problem. Senator Hanson-Young announced that her party plans to introduce a nationwide plastics ban to the Australian federal Senate in Canberra within the next few months. 


Australia has previously avoided dealing with its recycling problem by simply sending its trash and plastics to countries in East Asia

This newest legislation comes at a time when Australia is contending with a looming plastic crisis. South Australia’s Green Industries department estimates that 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year, or the equivalent of the contents of one fully loaded garbage truck every minute. If this amount of plastic waste dumped does not change, the department estimates that by the year 2050, there will be more plastics in our oceans than fish.

Adding to this global plastic crisis is Australia’s badly inadequate recycling program. A study by the University of Technology Sydney estimates that only one third of plastic packaging waste in Australia gets recycled. In 2018, an estimated 600,000 of Australia’s 900,000 tons of plastic waste went unrecycled. Australia has previously avoided dealing with its recycling problem by simply sending its trash and plastics to countries in East Asia. More countries however have decided that they no longer want to take in Australia’s trash.

An Indonesian customers officer displays a tabloid newspaper among the trash imported from Australia

With an inadequate recycling system and fewer countries willing to accept its trash, Australia must take swift and decisive action to limit the amount of plastic it uses.

Malaysia recently announced that it was sending back 100 tons of Australia’s waste, because it was falsely labelled as being recyclable, it was rotten, or it was too contaminated to be safely recycled. China is also refusing to take in any more of Australia’s trash. China previously bought 50 percent of recyclables Australia collected, but a new law passed by Beijing means that 99 percent of these materials can no longer be imported into the country. 

India and Indonesia have also refused to allow Australia to send its trash to them. Indonesia announced this month that it is sending back 8 shipping containers full of recyclable material, after government inspectors declared the material too contaminated. India’s new plastic imports ban will also effectively stop Australia sending any more of its plastic waste to the country. With more countries refusing to accept its garbage, Australia is facing the consequences of its poor recycling performance.


With a poor recycling record and less countries willing to accept its trash, Australia must take swift and decisive action to limit the amount of plastic it uses. South Australia’s proposed ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery is a much-needed initiative to take in leading the country’s fight against plastic waste, and embracing more sustainable alternatives. 

Will Plastic Straws Make America Great Again?

The Trump campaign team has just announced that it is selling packs of ten plastic straws with the president’s name laser etched into them for 15 dollars, plus shipping. Trump’s selling point for these plastic straws? “Liberal paper straws don’t work”.

Naturally, this announcement has provoked a slew of news and social media responses, ranging from amused to angry. Let’s however have a serious look at Trump’s claims that paper straws don’t work, and that his straws are going to once again make America great.

Plastic straws may be cheaper than some paper straws, but Trump’s plastic straws are most certainly not

When you ask someone why they don’t use paper straws, they might say: “Aren’t paper straws more expensive than plastic?” Well, that depends. Plastic straws caught on in popularity because they became cheaper and cheaper to make. Despite being far more harmful to our country’s habitats and animals than any paper straw could be, people still appreciate how cheap plastic straws are.

Let’s take a step back, however, and remember how much the Trump campaign is asking supporters to pay for just 10 straws: 15 dollars. This equates to one dollar and fifty cents for just one plastic Trump straw. “Liberal” paper straws on the other hand can cost as little as a two cents per straw. Plastic straws may be cheaper than some paper straws, but Trump’s plastic straws are most certainly not.

When we do the math, it turns out the folks who bought the “liberal” paper straws for pennies are ending up with more hard-earned money in their pockets than the folks people who bought Trump’s 15-dollar plastic straws. Yes, the Trump campaign claims that these plastic straws are “reusable”, but so are all the single-use plastic straws that litter our planet. The Trump campaign site never says anything about the quality, thickness, durability, etc of these plastic straws, so for all we know, these 15-dollar straws could be no different from the cheapest plastic ones on the market.

Plastic straws may be cheaper than some paper straws, but Trump’s plastic straws are most certainly not.

The Trump campaign claims it wants to make America a great country again, and therefore plastic straws will help make that happen, right? Not so fast, because this has not been the case so far. In fact, Americans on average use 500 million plastic straws per day. Many of these plastic straws never get recycled, and instead enter our rivers, lakes and oceans.

Some of American’s greatest living treasures that call these waters home mistakenly swallow these straws, getting injured or killed. One of these living treasures is none other than the Bald Eagle, the symbol of this country. Scientists have documented Bald Eagles both eating plastic waste and dragging it into their nests, endangering both their own lives, and this national treasure’s future generations. If the Trump campaign cares about the Bald Eagle thriving, then surely it will make the switch to paper straws, right?

Scientists have documented Bald Eagles both eating plastic waste and dragging it into their nests, endangering both their own lives, and this national treasure’s future generations.

“But paper straws don’t work”, we may hear. Well certainly, if paper straws are not made well, and are low quality, then like anything else, they will not perform well. A quality paper straw however will hold up well, and will last by the time you finish your beverage.

On top of their sustainability, affordability and strength, paper straws can be made in any size, color and pattern imaginable. Paper straws have all the practicality of plastic straws, but none of their harmful waste. With all these advantages, now may be a better time than ever for the Trump campaign to save a Bald Eagle’s life, and make the switch to paper straws that keep America the great place that it is.

Dubai Airports to Ban Single-Use Plastics by 2020

On June 10th, Dubai Airports Company announced its plan to ban single-use plastics from its facilities by January 1st, 2020. The United Arab Emirates-based firm is responsible for managing both Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport. Under the ban, single use plastic straws, forks, cutlery, and plastic shopping bags will no longer be allowed in shops, food courts, and restaurants. This ban follows the company’s recent push toward sustainability. Dubai Airports has already recycled over 43 thousand tons of paper and glass every year, and disposed of 16 tons of plastic water bottles. On World Environmental Day at the beginning of June, the company worked with more than 100 businesses at Dubai International Airport to stop handing out 150 thousand single-use plastic straws.

As massive as the buildings and construction projects are in the UAE, the amount of single-use plastic on Earth to  contends with is far greater. It has been estimated that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic waste has been produced worldwide since 1950. In other words, it would take 16,600 Burj Khalifas, the world’s tallest skyscraper located in Dubai, to fill the same space occupied by plastic. Chair of the Emirates Group Hababi Al Mar’ashi stated that banning single use plastics at Dubai International Airport will encourage international visitors in Dubai to take the initiative in fighting against single-use plastic pollution. With an estimated 90 million people passing through Dubai International each year, the airport has ranked as the world’s busiest for a 5th year in a row.  

Dubai Airports is not the first institution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to ban plastics. The UAE government’s Ministry of Environment and Water enacted bans on a number of non-biodegradable plastic products in 2013. Included in this list are single-use plastic bags, cups, cutlery and plates. Further bans on single-use plastics could have a major impact on the UAE’s waste footprint. The emirate Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency reported that the average UAE resident uses nearly 1,200 single-use plastics per year, or almost triple the global average. In addition, UAE residents use on average 3 billion plastic water bottles a year. A major shift away from single-use plastics to biodegradable materials has the potential of demonstrating to the world that no matter how heavily people rely on plastics, they can still make the switch to more sustainable alternatives.

Public opinion in the UAE is also shifting against single-use plastics. A 2019 poll of 2,700 people in the country’s seven emirates showed a majority supported paying a fee for single-use plastics. UAE citizens and the numerous expatriate workers living in the Emirates are already making their own personal changes, such as shopping with reusable bags, and bringing their own water bottles and beverage cups. Enterprises operating in the UAE are also doing their part to curb single-use plastics, with more than 50 businesses pledging in 2018 to stop using plastic straws. When January 1st, 2020 arrives, Dubai Airports will become the largest business in the UAE to ban single-use plastics at its establishments. In a country known the world over for its impressive list of human-made monoliths and achievements, ending plastic waste may yet be its most important. 

Businesses in San Diego Moving Away from Single-Use Plastic Straws

The City of San Diego is putting the brakes on enforcing a new set of laws on single-use plastics, after being sued by the California Restaurant Association. Under the new laws, most restaurants will no longer be allowed to hand out plastic straws to customers, unless requested. In addition, all people and businesses within San Diego city limits will be prohibited from handing out polystyrene (Styrofoam) foodware items in buildings or at special events run by the City. This list of items includes takeout containers, foam egg cartons, and foam plates. The ban on polystyrene foodware was set to take effect on May 24th, and the restriction on straws was to begin on February 23rd.

High quality paper straws are an excellent sustainable alternative to single-use plastics.

Despite these laws being put on hold, businesses in San Diego are moving forward with their switch from single-use plastics straws to biodegradable alternatives, such as paper straws. Some of these local business owners are already acquainted with plastic straw bans.  Woodstock’s Pizza owners Laura Ambrose and her husband are have complied with local bans on plastic straws in other California cities, where they operate a number of restaurants. With more cities California banning or restricting single-use plastic straws, the demand for biodegradable paper straws has shot up dramatically. As a result, paper straw companies are struggling to keep up production, and deliver orders to their customers on time. 

The City of San Diego states on its website that these new restrictions on single-use plastic straws and polystyrene foodware are part of its Zero Waste goals. Volunteers in 2017 picked up more than 20,000 pieces of plastic from San Diego’s beaches, according to the non-profit Surfrider Foundation. The Surfrider Foundation states that single-use plastic straws are one of the most frequently picked up items during beach cleanups. Because they are small and flimsy, most plastic straws are difficult if not impossible to recycle. These plastic straws can enter the ocean, where they pose a serious threat to marine animals. Turtles, birds and fish often ingest plastic straws by mistake, causing injury or death.

Although San Diego’s new single-use plastic straw ordinance has been put on hold, businesses in the city are nevertheless taking the steps to phase out this non-biodegradable item from their premises. With another major city in the US getting rid of single-use plastic straws and foodware, companies selling paper straws and eco-friendly takeout containers will be facing a bigger demand than ever before. As a renowned destination city for visitors from across the world, San Diego has the potential of making an impact far greater than the boundaries of its city limits.

Chicago Voters Say “Yes” to a Single-Use Plastic Straw Ban

On November 2018, Chicago residents voted “yes” to a measure asking them whether the city should ban single-use plastic straws, passing by an 11-point margin. Following the Election Day results, 15th ward Alderman Raymond Lopez announced his plan to introduce an ordinance for the Chicago City Council to vote on the ban. Businesses are taking notice, with Illinois Restaurants Association CEO and president Sam Toia expressing his members’ lack of surprise in the results.

Chicago-based restaurants, venues, museums and colleges have already switched from plastic straws to biodegradable alternatives like bamboo and paper straws. The Chicago White Sox banned plastic straws from their stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field, becoming the first Major League Baseball team in the country to do so. California-based food service company Bon Appetit announced that it will no longer offer plastic straws in its cafes and restaurants. Bon Appetit operates sites at the Art Institute of Chicago, suburban Wheaton College, and the University of Chicago. 

If the Chicago City Council follows up on the public’s vote and passes a ban, the city will become the third of America’s three biggest cities to restrict single-use plastics. The City Council of Los Angeles recently voted to prohibit restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless requested, and the municipal government of New York City will no longer purchase single-use plastics. New York’s Mayor Bill DeBlasio has backed a bill by City Council to prohibit plastic cutlery and other non-biodegradable, single-use foodware from restaurants located in the city. Chicago is a major hub for the agricultural and restaurant industry. Among these corporations is McDonald’s, whose headquarters are located in the city. A voter-supported ban on plastic straws in Chicago could send out a strong message to the food and beverage industry that opposition to single-use plastics is gaining more ground with each day, and major changes are inevitable.

How soon Chicago’s new Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushes for a vote on a plastic straw ban remains to be seen, however a ban seems sooner than later. Chicago struggles in its battle against single-use plastic waste. The Better Government Association reported that Chicago has the worst recycling rate of any U.S. city; just 9 percent of all residential waste collected gets recycled. Chicago is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, which is already littered with unrecycled plastic waste. Unrecycled plastic waste becomes trapped in the lake, where it gets swallowed by fish, and can eventually end up in the drinking water of residents in cities like Chicago. With low recycling rates and the health of Lake Michigan at stake, Chicago has many reasons to move away from single-use plastic straws, and embrace sustainable, biodegradable alternatives.