LA to begin plastic ‘Straws on Request’ initiative

LOS ANGELES — Starting Tuesday, all Los Angeles restaurant managers will be required to withhold plastic straws unless a customer requests them.

“As a coastal community, we have a heightened responsibility to remove as much single-use plastic from the waste stream as possible,” O’Farrell said. “Restaurants across the city are already switching to alternatives that are biodegradable while more Angelenos are using reusable straws and by extension participating in helping to clean our environment.”

The first phase of Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s “Straws on Request” initiative, which applied to businesses with more than 26 employees, took effect in April on Earth Day.

The new law takes aim at reducing single-use plastic waste from littering beaches and waterways, O’Farrell said, and it applies to restaurants of all sizes.

“The city has been hard at work all year long preparing the public and business owners for the new straw law,” said Enrique Zaldivar, director and general manager of Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment. “As the ordinance takes effect at all restaurants and eateries — and enforcement begins — it is our priority to make sure residents and business owners understand why this new law is so critical in protecting our local environment.”

The city’s definition of plastic straws includes those that are not biodegradable.

O’Farrell spoke was joined Monday morning at Echo Park Lake by various city officials and local restaurant owners to discuss the law going into effect.

Josh Estrada, a co-partner in Beacon Echo Park, said his restaurant has already made the switch to straws that safely decompose because of the importance to the environment.

Both the state and county recently adopted a single-use plastic straw policy, but O’Farrell said Los Angeles’ law is more restrictive. In drive-thru restaurants, the customer will be notified to ask for a straw if one is needed.

O’Farrell cited a report from the nonprofit Lonely Whale campaign called Strawless Ocean, which stated Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws each day. Worldwide, plastic straws are among the top 10 marine debris items, according to the environmental advocacy group.

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