San Francisco may become the next U.S. city to ban plastic straws. The city's Board of Supervisors approved the ban on a preliminary basis last week and the final decision is on its agenda Tuesday. That has shops that sell boba, or bubble tea -- a drink that has to be sucked through a straw -- concerned.
Bubble tea is typically served in a big plastic cup over ice. It has balls of tapioca at the bottom the size of small marbles. You use a wide straw to suck up the tapioca, or boba, from the bottom of the cup.
For boba fans, the straw is an integral part of the experience. "Boba is just, in general, an expression, right?" says Alvin Yu, co-owner of the city's Steep Creamery and Tea. "You have not just tapioca pearls, but you also have aloe jelly, you have these herbal jellies that we make ourselves. And it all requires a straw."
According to Yelp, more than 200 shops sell bubble tea in San Francisco. All of them will have to change their business practices if the city bans plastic straws to help reduce litter and landfill and combat the amount of single-use plastics that end up polluting the ocean.
The size and shape of plastic straws makes them particularly problematic for the city's composting and recycling centers, says San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, who spearheaded the bill.