Plastic Straws on Request Ordinance Goes into Effect on Earth Day

Plastic Straws on Request Los Angeles Mitch O'Farrell

LOS ANGELES - A new law aimed at reducing single-use plastic waste from littering our beaches and waterways goes into effect on April 22nd, making Los Angeles the largest municipality to go above and beyond State requirements for addressing plastic straw pollution.

“The new city law picks up where the state law stops,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “As a coastal city and state, we owe it to our environment to do everything in our power to ensure we reduce single-use plastic waste. This could not have been accomplished without collaboration with our city departments, our environmental advocates, and our business community, many of whom are already taking steps to find alternatives to plastic straws.”


“I am proud to be part of the cutting edge work the City of Los Angeles is doing to fight plastic pollution in the LA River and our ocean,” said Cecilia Cabello, Commissioner for the LA Board of Public Works. “We are excited to join other progressive communities around the country that are also saying ‘no’ to plastic straws.”

“A seemingly small change with huge environmental dividends, the Straws-on-Demand Law will make us all more mindful of our resource conservation and waste reduction ethos, which will in turn make Los Angeles a more sustainable city,” said Enrique Zaldivar, Director of LA Sanitation and Environment. “As the lead environmental agency, LA Sanitation and Environment appreciates Council Member O’Farrell’s leadership in championing this law.”

Both the State and County recently adopted a single-use plastic straw policy. However, the Los Angeles City Council action takes things even further by requiring sit down restaurants AND fast food chains to withhold plastic beverage straws unless a customer requests them. In drive-thru restaurants, the customer will be notified to ask for a straw if one is needed. The ‘Plastic Straws on Request’ ordinance will take effect on Earth Day 2019 (April 22) for businesses with more than 26 employees, and all restaurants by Oct. 1, 2019.

“As an active business owner and community member, we have been working closely with Councilman O’Farrell and the Bureau of Sanitation to find common ground on legislation that helps protect the environment, while also ensuring a healthy business climate for continued great guest experiences,” said McDonald’s Owner-Operator Ti Chang. “This is just one example of how McDonald’s is making changes our consumers want that will have a meaningful impact in the communities where we operate.”

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].

“Plastic straws are one of the top items our volunteers find at beach cleanups in Los Angeles County,” said ShelleyLuce, President & CEO of Heal the Bay. “We're thrilled to support the roll out of a comprehensive solution that not only reduces single-use plastic pollution from winding up in our environment, but also ensures that anyone who needs a straw can still have access to one.”

The next phase of the initiative is already underway, with the City’s Department on Disability convening meetings with the disabled community to discuss future expansion of the program.

“My department continues to work with Sanitation to ensure all concerns are addressed for teh disabled community,” said Stephen Simon, Executive Director with the Department on Disability. “Thank you Councilmember O’Farrell for crafting policy to better our environment and best serve all residents of Los Angeles.”