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Seattle becomes the latest city to ban plastic straws and utensils

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-07 17:20:47-04

Plastics and other debris line an estuary in Kentucky.

If you use a plastic straw or plastic utensils in Seattle now, get ready to pay.

A ban went into effect Sunday outlawing those particular straws and utensils at “all food service businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops, food trucks and institutional cafeterias.”

Violators will be subject to a $250 fine.

Businesses can opt for straws and utensils made from more environmentally-friendly materials such as paper, steel and bamboo. Still, the city suggests that businesses provide those only upon request.

“It’s taking a stand on plastic pollution,” Kate Melges of environmental organization Greenpeace told CNN affiliate KIRO. “And really taking a stand on what needs to happen, a ban on all single-use plastic products.”

Greenpeace says 40 percent of plastics in the ocean are from single-use plastics, KIRO reported.

In recent years, Seattle has taken major steps in reducing waste. In 2009, Styrofoam was banned. In 2010, it became a requirement that “food service items” – with the exception of straws and utensils – be either recyclable or compostable. That same year, the city also mandated that businesses have compost and recycle bins.

Other cities, such as Miami Beach, Florida, Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, and several municipalities in California including Oakland and Berkeley, have all banned the use of disposable plastic straws, but not utensils. New York City introduced legislation to ban plastic straws in May.

A report last year from the academic journal Science Advances said that as of 2015, only 9 percent of plastics were being recycled, 12 percent were being incinerated and the other 79 percent were ending up in the environment.