California restaurants will only provide plastic straws to customers upon request after Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation that aims to cut down on pollution.
The change covers full-service dining, but not takeout establishments like fast-food restaurants. It will take effect in 2019.
“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Brown wrote in a signing message for Assembly Bill 1884, pointing to plastic waste found in dead animals and tap water around the world. “It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative.”
Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, introduced AB 1884 to raise awareness about the effect of single-use plastic items on the environment. Plastic straws and stirrers are the sixth-most common item found at beach cleanup days, according to the California Coastal Commission, with more than 835,000 picked up between 1988 and 2016.
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Under the measure, businesses would receive a warning for their first two violations, then a $25 fine per day for each subsequent violation, up to $300 annually. Several California cities have already adopted similar ordinances, including Manhattan Beach, which in June banned plastic straws, stirrers and utensils completely.