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. 

Two Coastal Israeli Cities to Ban Single-Use Plastic from Their Beaches

Two of Israel’s coastal cities, Herzliya and Eilat, have announced plans to ban single-use plastics from their beaches. Banned items include but are not limited to plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic cutlery. Both cities will be joining a growing list of countries and municipalities around the world’s coasts that have passed similar bans on single-use plastics, including Peru, Chile, and several US states.

The city of Eilat, located on the Red Sea, intends to tackle plastic waste on its beaches through a two-stage plan. This plan includes educating and discouraging local businesses from using plastics, and then enforcing the ban on single-use plastics from its beaches. Plastic water bottles will be exempt from the ban, however. Eilat’s city hall also plans to organize a campaign to raise awareness among residents and visitors about the harmful effects of plastic on marine life and coral reefs. For Eilat, banning single-use plastics from its beaches will be crucial to preserving its world-famous coral reefs that attract divers from around the world. Eilat’s ban on single-use plastics from its beach also coincides with Egypt’s Red Sea Governorate’s ban on all single-use plastics from its beaches by June. With authorities in two different countries announcing bans on single-use plastics from their beaches, there may be a chance for a more aggressive push to eliminate plastic waste from the Red Sea. Eilat is also collaborating with governmental agencies and organizations to educate visitors, residents and business owners about the harmful effects of plastic waste through social media campaigns and billboards.

Herliya’s ban on single-use plastics from its Mediterranean beaches is part of a joint initiative between its local government and the Israeli environmental organization Zalul (“clear”), launched on January 2018. Herzliya’s mayor Moshe Fadlon intends to make his municipality the starting point for a mission to ban single-use plastics across Israel. Fadlon plans to create a ripple effect by encouraging other cities to follow Herzliya, and eventually introducing a national law in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, which will prohibit single-use plastics from the entire country. Israel’s government has taken notice of the growing concern over the harmful effects of plastic on the world’s waters. The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry’s data estimates that plastics comprise 90 percent of trash in marine environments, with nearly 60 percent of that waste coming from trash thrown onto beaches. The ministry is also looking into investigating how much of the amount of plastic on Israel’s beaches comes from other countries, and how much of that amount is generated within the country. Plastic waste has a tremendous impact on the environment. Not only does plastic waste hurt or kill marine animals and birds that mistake it for food, but this waste can break down into micro-particles that can migrate through the food chain and end up in human bodies.

The new ban on single-use plastics from the beaches of Herzliya and Eilat shows promise, as both cities are tackling plastic pollution in two major bodies of water, as well as taking the steps of raising national awareness through PR and policy campaigns. Should these efforts succeed, Israel may become a world leader in eliminating single-use plastic waste. Tourists visiting Israeli beaches may soon take out lunch from biodegradable fiber cartons, and enjoy their beverages with paper straws instead of their plastic counterparts.

New Challenges to San Francisco Restaurants Serving Boba Drinks

Shops and restaurants selling boba tea in San Francisco will soon face a new challenge to their businesses from a ban on plastic straws, passed in 2018 by the Board of Supervisors. Starting on July of 2019, shops violating this new ordinance will face fines ranging from 100 to 500 dollars with each offense. In order to stay in compliance, finding an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic straws will be crucial for shops selling boba tea. Boba tea is a Taiwanese drink seeing an increasing popularity in US cities, and consists of a sweet tea filled with large glutinous tapioca marbles. Boba tea straws must be wide enough to allow the tapioca balls to pass through them, while also being sturdy with a sharpened tip capable of punching through a film secured over the top of the drink, which prevents spilling. The challenge for San Francisco-based shops selling boba tea is finding a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastic straws that meets all of these requirements.

San Francisco will only permit non-plastic alternatives such as bamboo, metal, or paper straws. Plant-based PLA plastic straws will be prohibited in San Francisco, as although they can be readily recycled, they are too small to be caught and sorted by the city’s PLA composting facilities. PLA plastic is also not safe for the waters surrounding San Francisco, as the cold temperatures prevent the material from biodegrading, making PLA straws just as harmful to marine animals as normal plastic straws. Reusable metal and bamboo straws are an alternative, however they are far more expensive to buy than single-use straws, and many tourists visiting San Francisco may balk at the prospect of spending as much as two dollars or more in order to enjoy their drinks. With metal and bamboo straws an expensive and likely unappealing prospect, and single-use PLA straws not being an option for boba drinks, San Francisco business will likely navigate to paper straws as single-use biodegradable alternatives. 

There are a handful of paper straw companies that offer boba straws wide enough to be used, however many of these straws do not come with sharp angled tips capable of piercing the container tops, meaning shops selling boba tea will need to spend the time and laborious effort of cutting the tips of each straw themselves. Cost will also be a concern, with most paper boba straws on the market today costing up to 19 cents a piece, adding a greater business expense to San Francisco businesses purchasing large quantities to keep up with customer demand in a competitive business market with high rent costs. As many of these local stores are family owned with far less wealth than larger franchise businesses, they may have no other option than to place the price of these biodegradable straws on their patrons. For eco-friendly straw producers, the challenge will be to offer small businesses in San Francisco with a paper straw that not only has all the capabilities they expect from a boba straw, but can also be manufactured and sold at an affordable price.

‘Mass extinction event’ that could wipe out a million species is already underway, says UN-backed report

'Mass extinction event' that could wipe out a million species is already underway, says UN-backed report

The report comes after a week-long meeting of experts from 50 countries in Paris. They  warn that a “mass extinction event” precipitated by human activities is already underway – the first such event since dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid 66 million years ago. Scientists say that in total, our planet has experienced five previous mass extinctions in the past half-billion years; this sixth wave would be the first caused by humans.

The report calls for urgent changes in government policies to limit environmental damage and climate change, but will also recommend that families or individuals sponsor beekeepers near their homes, for a cost of less than $100 a year. Bee populations are falling but they are essential to pollinate crops and food supplies depend on them.

Eating organic food is another way to preserve fast shrinking insect populations. The report says the reason your car windscreen is no longer covered in dead insects after a long drive is because pesticides have wiped out nearly 80 per cent of Europe’s winged insects over the past three decades. The decline has also reduced bird numbers by nearly a third, because there are no longer enough insects for them to eat. If insects disappear, vegetable and fruit crops will fail because they won’t be pollinated.

The report also renews calls to give up plastic straws. Americans alone use 500 million a day, but they end up in the sea and harm fish and marine animals.

The report also renews calls to give up plastic straws. Americans alone use 500 million a year, but they end up in the sea and harm fish and marine animals.

People can help save endangered species through adoption, it says; a chimpanzee, for example, can be sponsored for a donation to WWF of around $60 a year.

Eating less meat will also help to preserve forests, the experts say. Livestock and agriculture cause deforestation in many parts of the world because trees are cut down to make way for pasture or to grow crops. In the Amazon, some 63 per cent of deforestation stems from livestock farming. But neither should you turn to tofu — soya growing is also a major culprit in the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.

The report warns that “half a million to a million species are projected to be threatened with extinction, many within decades.”

Robert Watson, chair of the group that drafted the report, said: “The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being. Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge for decades to come.”

Species are being lost because of shrinking habitats, illegal hunting, climate change and pollution, campaigners say.

The report has been prepared over three years for a cost of more than £1.8 million by “150 leading international experts from 50 countries, balancing representation from the natural and social sciences, with additional contributions from a further 310 experts,” according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Known officially as the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, it draws on nearly 15,000 references including scientific papers and government data.

It is backed up by an open letter urging world leaders to act immediately, signed by nearly 600 scientists, business leaders, environmentalists and public figures, including Jane Goodall, the primatologist and conservationist, and Chris Packham, the naturalist and television presenter.

Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam

Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam

Food containers made of Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, will be officially banned from businesses in Maine after governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law Tuesday.

The law, which will go into effect January 1, 2021, prohibits restaurants, caterers, coffee shops and grocery stores from using the to-go foam containers because they cannot be recycled in Maine.

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Maine has become the first state to take such a step as debate about banning plastic bags or other disposable products is spreading across the nation.
 
While states like New York and California have banned single-use plastic bags, others such as Tennessee and Florida have made it illegal for local municipalities to regulate them.
 
Maryland’s legislature also has approved bills to ban polystyrene, but it’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will sign the legislation. Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman, the primary sponsor of the Maryland House bill, said banning foam products was the first step to curbing people’s reliance on single-use plastics.
 
“Polystyrene cannot be recycled like a lot of other products, so while that cup of coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup it was in is not,” Mills said in a statement to CNN affiliate WMTW. “In fact, it will be around for decades to come and eventually it will break down into particles, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife, and even detrimentally impacting our economy.”

Maine has become the first state to take such a step as debate about banning plastic bags or other disposable products is spreading across the nation.

The Maine law, originally proposed by Rep. Stanley Zeigler (D-Montville), also applies to plastic beverage stirrers.
 
Those who violate the law could face a fine of up to $100, News Center Maine reports.
“Maine has proven itself an environmental leader once again, this time in eliminating disposable foam containers that have become a common, costly, and deadly form of plastic pollution,” said Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), in a statement.
“With the threats posed by plastic pollution becoming more apparent, costly, and even deadly to wildlife, we need to be doing everything possible to limit our use and better manage our single-use plastics — starting with eliminating the use of unnecessary forms like plastic foam.”
 
The NRCM reports that plastic foam food containers are among the top 10 most commonly littered items in the US.
 
More than 256 million pieces of disposable foam cups, plates, bowls, platters, and trays are used every year in Maine, the NRCM says.
Some 15 towns in the state have already banned foam food containers, it says.
 
The reason why Styrofoam is difficult to clean up is that it easily breaks into smaller pieces, according to Ashley Van Stone, executive director of Trash Free Maryland.
Foam also absorbs toxins faster than other plastics and is mistaken for food by marine life, Van Stone said. And the toxins that wildlife consumes makes its way up the food chain into people.