Last month, a bill was introduced that would require dine-in restaurants to have a straws-upon-request policy. The bill, Assembly Bill 1884, was introduced by Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) in the hopes of curbing the use of straws to help protect the environment. Under the bill, restaurants in California would be prohibited from automatically handing out straws to customers. Assemblyman Calderon stated,
We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans. AB 1884 is not a ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.
According to Calderon’s news release last month, straws and stirrers ranked as the sixth most collected item among all trash collected as part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day between 1989 and 2014. The news release also stated that the estimated 500 million straws used each day in the United States are not recycled and often end up in oceans and waterways, where they can be mistaken as food by marine life. Sharokina Shams, vice president of public affairs for the California Restaurant Association, stated that the association would study the bill’s potential impacts and consult with its membership before taking an official stance on the bill. Shams also stated that Calderon’s proposal is preferable to an outright ban on straws. We will have to wait and see if AB 1884 passes and what potential impacts it might have.