Left-Wing Politicians Wage War on Plastic

After a ban on non-biodegradable utensils went into effect over the weekend in Seattle, local officials are advising food service businesses to “[s]top using plastic straws and plastic utensils.”

An ordinance pending before the New York City Council would make that city’s food service businesses the next front line in liberal politicians’ war on plastic straws.

For the last two months, the New York City Council has deliberated over a bill that would make it a civil offense for any food service provider in the city to offer customers straws or stirrers “made of plastic or any other non-biodegradable material.” If passed, violators could face a fine of $100 for their first peccadillo and steeper fines for repeat offenses.

Supporters of straw bans argue that serious global pollution problems demand drastic local solutions—particularly, the use of non-biodegradable straws. And they have a point: Plastic straws cannot be recycled and they can be blown into waterways.

Still, New York’s proposed law—and others like it—may be a problem in search of a solution.

It rides on a wave of plastic straw laws coming out of California cities: MalibuDavis, and San Luis Obispo have each passed ordinances that restrict the distribution of plastic straws in restaurants.

A broader environmentalist campaign against plastic straws and stirrers reaches from Seattle to Miami Beach, Florida.

The rules in each city vary. Some, for example, carry criminal penalties, while others do not. Miami Beach targets straw delivery to beachgoers, while Seattle prohibits plastic straws, stirrers, and cocktail picks in restaurants throughout the city. The single purpose behind all of these rules, however, remains to combat pollution.

When Malibu officials proposed a plastic straw ban, they cited figures familiar to many an eco-justice warrior, claiming that “500 million single-use plastic straws are discarded per day across the nation.”

Photo: Richard B. Levine/Newscom