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City of Seattle considers ordinance to ban plastic utensils and straws

KOMO News

SEATTLE -- If you grab food-to-go from a restaurant, you most likely will get some plastic cutlery to go with it. And if you also get a drink, it'll probably come with a plastic straw. Those days could be numbered. The City of Seattle wants to ban plastic utensils and plastic straws from restaurants as early as next year.

At Juicy Cafe inside Columbia Tower, employees serve up 300 drinks every day. Juicy Cafe switched from plastic straws and plastic utensils to compostable ones a few years ago.

“They're actually potato-based,” said Managing Operator Anna Osborne.

The City of Seattle wants all of its restaurants to make the big switch to cut down on waste going to our landfills. Since 2010, the city had an ordinance to ban plastic utensils. But every year, restaurants have gotten an exemption because of the cost or the lack of options.

“More and more items are now readily available that are compostable or recyclable,” said Becca Fong with Seattle Public Utilities.

The city will talk to the public and the restaurant industry and by next July decide whether to ban all plastic straws and plastic utensils offered at restaurants.

“It’s about getting people to use items that are not going to go directly into the garbage,” Fong said.

At Ivar’s Restaurants, there are no plastic utensils or plastic straws. Instead, there's compostable cutlery. As for straws…

“We've been testing compostable straws and paper straws for months now,” said Bob Donegan, President of Ivar’s.

Organizers of a campaign called "Strawless in Seattle" say a lot of plastic straws end up in the ocean. As many as 500 restaurants and local groups including the Seattle Aquarium will go the entire month of September without using plastic straws.

If the recommended changes are approved on schedule, plastic straws and plastic utensils will be banned starting in July. The changes only apply to restaurants and food service businesses. You'll still be able to get plastic straws and utensils from grocery stores.

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