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CITY HALL -- City officials are moving forward with a ‘Plastic Straws on Request’ initiative, with the ultimate goal of phasing out single-use plastic straws altogether by 2021, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell announced Tuesday.
The initiative, spearheaded by Councilmember O’Farrell, aims to create a citywide single use plastic straw ordinance. Recently, Governor Brown signed a bill banning full-service restaurants from automatically giving customers plastic straws. O’Farrell’s initiative is a collaboration with business leaders on a “Straws by Request Only” ordinance.
"Plastic straws play a negative, outsized role in harming our environment and as a coastal city, we have a responsibility to act,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “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.”
“Straws on request is another step by the LA 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.”
Joining Councilmember O’Farrell for the press conference Tuesday was a local McDonald’s owner-operator, a small business owner from the 13th Council District, and members of Heal The Bay, a grassroots environmental organization based in Santa Monica.
A recent report indicates that Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws each day. Worldwide, plastic straws are among the top 10 marine debris items according to an environmental advocacy group [source].
“Since 2000, Heal the Bay volunteers have picked up over 121,000 straws and stirrers from Los Angeles County beaches,” said Shelley Luce, President & CEO of Heal the Bay. “It’s heartening to see businesses recognizing the problem and becoming part of solution.”
In January of this year, Councilmembers O’Farrell and Nury Martinez co-introduced a motion to create a citywide ordinance requiring restaurants and food service providers to distribute plastic straws by request only. 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.
“Plastic straws endanger our marine wildlife and they foul our lakes, streams, and rivers,” said O’Farrell. “With our economy of scale here in LA and a phase out, all businesses and manufacturers can join the initiative and pioneer low cost, biodegradable, disposable products.”
During the Energy, Environment, and Social Justice Committee on Tuesday, O’Farrell instructed the Bureau of Sanitation to report back within 90 days regarding the feasibility of phasing out single use plastic straws by 2021, and working with the Department of Disability on methods and approaches to mitigate impacts to the disabled community associated with the phase out.