Seattle bans straws and utensils made of plastic

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Seattle has banned plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks.

Q: What happens if businesses don't comply?

The ban impacts over 5,000 restaurants and food providers in the region.

San Francisco and Berkeley are among the Bay Area cities that have considered a ban on plastic straws.

Customers in Seattle will no longer be able to use plastic straws, utensils, or cups when they dine out, after a new ordinance took effect Sunday in the Pacific Northwest city, the Seattle Times reported. Restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks, and cafeterias can now switch to compostable paper or plastic straws.

'Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world's oceans, and I'm proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban, ' Seattle Public Utilities general manager Mami Hara told KOMO News.

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The Seattle Times reports that it's believed to be the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service.

California's Legislature is considering statewide restrictions, but not an outright ban, on single-use plastic straws.

Moscrip said that he converted his restaurant over to compostable products in 2015 anyway, because it was 'the right thing to do.' These days, environmentally friendly straws and utensils are only about 10 per cent more expensive than the alternative. The city then required that compostable or recyclable food service items, including plastic straws and utensils, be used beginning in 2010. Ellen Pepin-Cato of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU)-the agency responsible for enforcing the ban-tells The Seattle Times that the focus for now would be on "continuing outreach and assistance to businesses to help them come into compliance, rather than enforcement".

Environmental advocates have been pushing for restaurants and other businesses to ditch single-use straws, saying they can't be recycled and end up in the ocean, polluting the water and harming sea life.

Last September, the Lonely Whale Foundation started a "Strawless in Seattle" campaign, which reportedly prevented the use of 2.3 million plastic straws in just one month.

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