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California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Thursday that would prohibit full service restaurants from automatically serving drinks with plastic straws. Photo: Pixabay

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Thursday that would prohibit full-service restaurants from automatically serving drinks with plastic straws. Photo: Pixabay


The Inertia

On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two major bills into law in an effort to curb the use of single-use plastics statewide. The first bans full-service restaurants from offering customers plastic straws, except upon request and the second calls on state facilities (including beaches and state parks) that sell take-out food to move from styrofoam to reusable, compostable, or recyclable containers.

AB 1884 or the Plastic Straws Upon Request bill was introduced in the state assembly by Assemblymember Ian Calderon and specifically “prohibits a full-service restaurant… from providing single-use plastic straws… to consumers unless requested by the consumer.” In other words, you don’t have to worry about getting a straw in your water that you never asked for.

“It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it,” said Governor Brown in a statement. “And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.”

It’s in that spirit that Governor Brown signed SB 1335, or the Sustainable Packaging for the State of California Act of 2018, into law. Introduced by Senator Bill Allen, the bill prohibits food service facilities located in state-owned facilities from “dispensing prepared food using a type of food service packaging unless the type of food service packaging is… reusable, recyclable, or compostable.” Principally the bill is referring to EPS or styrofoam packaging. According to the Surfrider Foundation, styrofoam accounted for 20 percent of items picked up during California’s Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017. “Most EPS foam take-out food containers cannot be recycled or composted and end up littering our beaches, breaking into smaller pieces, becoming a blight to beach-goers, a threat to wildlife, and costing local communities thousands of tax dollars each year,” explained Shannon Waters, Surfrider’s Smartfin Project Manager, in a blog post.

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According to Governor Brown, these recent legislative moves are targeted efforts to preserve the health of California’s coastlines and oceans.

“Ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year… Nor are humans immune as microplastics were recently found in tap water around the world,” said Governor Brown in a statement.

“Plastics in all forms – straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. – are chocking our planet.”

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