Discouraging Plastic Straws

Environmental Advocates Support this Bill

Explanation: 

This legislation requires that certain food establishments only provide plastic straws to customers when explicitly requested, or when the straws are selected by the customer from a self-service dispenser. By discouraging plastic straw use, this bill would take an important step towards addressing the harmful accumulation of plastics in our oceans and waterways.

Plastic straws pose a significant threat to oceans and marine life. They were one of the top 10 types of marine debris found during the Ocean Conservancy's 2017 International Coastal Cleanup.[1] Straws are not biodegradable; instead, they break up into smaller and smaller pieces, which can linger in the ocean for hundreds of years and be ingested by wildlife.

Plastic straws are a convenience in most settings, not a necessity. New York should prioritize the health of our environment for future generations, and take action to reduce the presence of this dangerous waste in our waters.

This legislation would apply to establishments where food is consumed on the premises, such as restaurants, cafes, and the sit-down portion of fast food restaurants. Drive-through portions of fast food restaurants are excluded from the requirements of this bill. We recommend the following changes to maximize this bill’s benefit to the environment:

  1. Require a full ban on plastic straws: Given that paper, bamboo, and metal straws are already available on the market, New York should take the most effective step to reduce plastic waste by eliminating plastic straws in most food establishments.
  2. Remove exception for straw dispensers: Plastic straws should be available by request only, and be discouraged from use as much as possible. The bill should eliminate the exception for plastic straw dispensers.

[1] https://oceanconservancy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/International-Co...

 

Summary: 

This legislation amends the environmental conservation law to require that restaurants only provide plastic straws to customers when explicitly requested, or when selected by the customer from a self-service dispenser.

Memo #: 

83