Union City to Ban Plastic Straws

Union City is set to be the newest municipality in California set to ban plastic straws. Citing the need to reduce litter and plastic waste in waterways, the City Council passed the bill unanimously. Taking effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the law requires businesses to only hand out compostable paper straws on request.

In addition to banning plastic straws, the law requires businesses only hand out disposable foodware on request. This list includes paper napkins, single-use takeout containers, and cutlery. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we’re excited to see another city in our home state move away around plastic. 

Plastic straws are no longer welcome in Union City
Union City's Council passed the ban unanimously.

Implementing the Plastic Straw Ban

Union City’s plastic straw ban follows other Bay Area cities, including Palo Alto, Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland, and San Francisco. In addition to local bans, the State of California already restricts plastic drinking straws to an upon-request basis. Union City’s plastic straw ban will affect about 200 businesses, who will need to use compostable alternatives.

 

While the plastic straw ban takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, Union City won’t begin enforcing it until July 1. Giving a 6-month grace period will allow businesses to deplete their plastic supply, and acquire paper straws. According to city staffers, Union City wants to work with violating businesses to make them compliant, rather than fining them. In the coming months, city staffers will visit each business, and discuss how to comply with the plastic straw ban. 

Quality Paper Straws For Union City

While Union City will work with businesses to switch over, not everyone is excited with the plastic straw ban. Even with more bans driving demand up, paper straws often cost more than plastic. At OkStraw, we understand cost concerns, and that’s why we offer premium paper straws at affordable prices. With factory-direct pricing for our paper straws, choosing OkStraw makes great financial sense. 

 

Although Union City businesses supported banning plastic straws, they didn’t think their customers would. City staffers cited customers unhappy with collapsed, soggy paper straws. These stories are all-too familiar with us at OkStraw, and they’re because of low quality paper straws. Unlike other inferior paper straws, OkStraw’s 3-ply paper straws last 3 hours, and our 4-plies at least 5!

 

Low quality paper straws have no place hurt the consumer experience
OkStraw Paper Bendy Straws are true alternatives to plastic.

Last Stand for Bendy Plastic Straws

Although otherwise comprehensive, Union City’s ban will still allow plastic bendy straws for people with disabilities. Disability rights advocates previously criticized plastic bans, because many people with disabilities need bendy straws to drink. Without any viable paper alternatives, plastic straws held on.

Until now, that is, because OkStraw’s Bendy Paper Straws deliver the final blow to their plastic foe. Our Bendy Paper Straws are ADA-compliant, making them a top choice for people who need them. With OkStraw ADA-compliant paper straws, Union City can both be inclusive, and be 100-percent plastic straw free.

Here's to a Plastic-Free Future

We’d like to commend Union City for taking the big leap to give plastic straws the boot. Thanks to affordable and strong paper straws from companies like OkStraw, making the switch won’t be hard. Whether you serve bubble tea, slushies, or need ADA-compliant bendy paper straws, OkStraw has you covered.

With Union City joining the party, the Bay Area looks poised to ditch plastic straws altogether. At OkStraw, we’re calling out for folks across the US to say farewell to plastic straws, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

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.

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. 

Marine Pollution – National Geographic on Plastic Straws

Little plastics and lightweight plastics, rarely end up recycling bins; the evidence of this marine pollution is clearly visible on any beach. Straws are of particular concern of late.  And although straws result in a tiny portion of ocean waste, their size makes them one of the most prolific polluters because they ensnare marine wildlife and are digested by large aquatic animals. This marine pollution is very real.

Of the eight million tons of plastic trash that pollute marine habitats, the plastic drinking straw is surely a contributor to all that tonnage. Straws are the latest on an expanding list of individual plastic items being outlawed, heavily taxed, or outright boycotted in an effort to curb plastic marine pollution before it outweighs fish, a calculation projected to occur by 2050.

As straws proliferated into wide spread marine pollution, so did anti-straw campaigns. Some non-profit groups have attention-getting names like Straw Wars, in London’s Soho neighborhood, or Straws Suck, used by the worldwide Surfrider Foundation. Other volunteer groups have been organized by pint-sized environmentalists, such as the OneLessStrawcampaign, set up by a sister-and-brother team, Olivia Ries and Carter Ries, when they were aged 7 and 8.  OKSTRAW™ is doing our part to contribute to these efforts as well to fight marine pollution.

For context, last fall, California became the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags, joining a host of nations that already do so, including Kenya, China, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Macedonia. France not only banned plastic bags, it has become the first country to also ban plastic plates, cups, and utensils, beginning in 2020. San Francisco banned polystyrene, including Styrofoam cups and food containers, packaging peanuts, and beach toys.  Marine Pollution is a serious issue, being confronted by countries and cities world wide.

500 Million Straws a Day? Fact or Fiction?

Straw usage in the United States is rampantly being mis-represented by false statistics, the with often cited 500 Million Straws a day statistic being used as a basis to attack plastic straws. The source for this number is an unverified 2011 phone survey of three straw manufacturers conducted by 9-year-old Milo Cress.  That’s right, a 9 year old boy who called three straw manufacturers, and summoned the 500 million straws a day statistic.  That’s a pretty shaky foundation for an argument, but that hasn’t stopped media outlets, activist organizations, and government officials from using faulty figure to justify restrictions on the use of plastic straws. Since then it’s been truth by consensus regarding this 500 million straw statistic. 

Many outlets were either oblivious to the figure’s origins or mistakenly attributed it to the National Park Service. Learning its true source did spark some self-reflection from the Washington Post, which had cited the 500 million straw number in some of its reporting, and which ran a story that was somewhat skeptical of Cress’s findings.  Fact-checking website Snopes, also says: “No one has proven that [500 million straws a day] figure wrong, mind you; it’s just that Cress is its only source and no one has confirmed his research independently.”

The marketing analysis firm Technomics researches the food service industry, and has specifics on straw. Every two years, it performs a study of disposable food service packaging; its most recent effort, from 2016, looked at over 30 different categories of packaging. Those numbers do not include straws purchased for home consumption, but David Henkes, a senior principal at the firm, says the study captures about 95 percent of the straw market. Technomics found that Americans use 172 million straws each day. Given a growth rate of 2–3 percent per year in the straw market, Henkes estimates the figure today is somewhere around 175 million.  A much starker contrast to the 500 million straw statistic.  This is still an impressive number of straws – and to help business’s pivot from a plastic to paper alternative, OKSTRAW™ is here to help.