CA Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Reduce Plastic Straw Waste

Majority Leader Ian Calderon introduced last week Assembly Bill 1884, which would require servers at sit-down restaurants to ask customers if they want a straw before providing one. The bill would not apply to fast-food restaurants.

Three years after California banned single-use plastic bags, a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that hopes to reduce the use of plastic straws. Majority Leader Ian Calderon introduced last week Assembly Bill 1884, which would require servers at sit-down restaurants to ask customers if they want a straw before providing one. The bill would not apply to fast-food restaurants.

Calderon said the bill aims to reduce the use of plastic straws as opposed to banning them outright.  

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon said. “AB 1884 is not 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 the Be Straw Free Campaign, more than 500 million straws are used in the U.S. every day, an estimated 1.6 straws per person. In addition, straws and stirrers ranked as the 6th most common item in a summary of all trash collected as part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day between 1989 and 2014. Non-biodegradable plastic straws that end up in the ocean or waterways break down into small pieces and are often mistaken for food by marine life.

Calderon said that the bill was a simple way for consumers to change their plastic use.

“Convenience is a tough thing for people to give up. If it’s there, still likely people will use it even with an educational campaign,” he said.

According to Sharokina Shams, the group’s vice president, the California Restaurant Association will take an official stance on the bill after the language is finalized but they “do believe that the option to request a straw is preferable to an outright ban.”

“If, ultimately, legislation can support the idea of protecting the environment while also allowing consumers and businesses some cost-effective choices, that would be a positive step,” Shams said.

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