Seattle businesses forgo plastic flatware, straws before ban takes effect
- Seattle will officially ban plastic straws and utensils next July, as reported by The Seattle Times. As part of the ordinance, any business in the city that sells food or drinks must offer recyclable or compostable flatware rather than plastic. When Seattle banned single-use plastic bags in 2012, fines for violators were steep, yet it is unclear if this straw and utensil ban would come with fines.
- Around 200 businesses have already agreed to stop offering plastic utensils this month as part of the "Strawless in Seattle" campaign. Seattle Public Utilities is hosting outreach events and sending mailers to prepare businesses for the July 2018 ban.
- Businesses participating in "Strawless in Seattle" are specifically using products from Aardvark Straws, a company that specializes in making custom, biodegradable straws.
It's fitting for Seattle to pursue further waste diversion policies with an environmental bent. Between a strong environmental activist culture, public programs and campaigns for recycling and waste prevention and a steadily-growing recycling rate, the city has the necessary components to be a model of diversion and recycling efforts for other cities around the country.
The coastal city has also seen seen growing success in a plastic bag ban, and had a 58.8% diversion rate in 2016. Seattle officials' pursuit of waste reduction hasn't been without issue, however — a "trash-snooping" ordinance was ruled illegal and a dumpster ban in part of the city lead to increased disposal costs for businesses. However, given that so many businesses have already jumped on the "Strawless in Seattle" bandwagon and that there's a strong corporate partner in Aardvark Straws, this plastic utensils ban is very likely to be another success story.
Seattle, of course, isn't the only city in the country — or the only place around the world — targeting waste in part to reduce marine pollution. The Emerald City isn't alone in targeting straws, either. Marine debris has been a hot topic lately and has even gotten some action in Congress. There is no shortage of creative solutions for business leaders and decision makers to pursue, so marine waste reduction will be a critical sector of the diversion industry to keep an eye on.
Follow Cody Boteler on Twitter