A measure that would make it illegal for restaurants in California to offer plastic straws with drinks unless they are requested is being met with a mixed reaction.
Critics are calling it excessive, while environmentalists say it’s a step in the right direction.
“We do a lot of beach cleanups,” says Nicole Kozlowski, who co-chairs the Rise Above Plastics Campaign for the environmental group Surfrider. “And I challenge anyone to go out on the beach or to walk the streets of San Francisco and not find a plastic straw. They are everywhere.”
According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic straws have been ranked in the top 10 list of items found on the beach during beach cleanups since 1989. In San Francisco, Surfrider estimates that the total weight of plastic straws that could be eliminated from the waste stream is over 4,800 pounds per day.
Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon introduced legislation last week that would make unsolicited straw-providing a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. But Calderon says the bill will be amended to eliminate the penalties.