Independent Wire Service
LOS ANGELES — All Los Angeles restaurants would be banned from giving customers plastic straws by 2021 under a proposal backed Oct. 16 by a City Council committee.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell wants to create a citywide single-use plastic straw ordinance that would go further than a bill, recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, banning full-service restaurants from automatically giving customers plastic straws beginning Jan. 1.
“Plastic straws play a negative, outsized role in harming our environment and as a coastal city, we have a responsibility to act,” O’Farrell said. “The fact that many small businesses in my district already offer plastic straws on request, or use environmentally friendly alternatives, demonstrates momentum on this issue.”
Under the measure approved by the council’s Energy, Environment, and Social Justice Committee, the Bureau of Sanitation would be instructed to report back within 90 days regarding the feasibility of phasing out single-use plastic straws by 2021, and to work with the Department of Disability on methods and approaches to mitigate impacts to the disabled community associated with the phase-out.
The committee also moved to have the city attorney draft a plastic straws-on-request ordinance applicable to food and beverage facilities with more than 26 employees effective Jan. 1, and applicable to all other food and beverage facilities effective July 1 of next year.
“Straws on request is another step by the L.A. City Council to remove more trash from our waste stream, a waste stream that currently and historically flows through the communities I represent,” said Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who co-introduced the initiative with O’Farrell. “Our goal of zero waste in Los Angeles will protect our environment and the communities of the Northeast Valley for years to come.”
O’Farrell’s original motion for the straws-on-request ordinance cites a Los Angeles Times editorial which stated that Americans use — and almost immediately discard — up to a half-billion plastic beverage straws each day.
The motion also called on the Bureau of Sanitation to report on options that business owners may use as an alternative to plastic straws, such as biodegradable or reusable straws.
“Since 2000, Heal the Bay volunteers have picked up over 121,000 straws and stirrers from Los Angeles County beaches,” said Shelley Luce, president and CEO of Heal the Bay. “It’s heartening to see businesses recognizing the problem and becoming part of solution.”
The committee also approved a second motion that calls for the city to explore the feasibility of implementing a plastic utensils-on-request ordinance which requires restaurants, and other food service providers, to withhold plastic utensils unless a customer requests them.