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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.

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.

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