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Seattle on Sunday became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws and utensils.

The full ban went into effect on July 1, a decade after the city first introduced a measure requiring restaurants to use only recyclable and compostable materials.

Plastic straws and utensils were originally exempt from the ban because of a lack of viable compostable alternatives.


Restaurants and businesses like food trucks and grocery stores may provide compostable plastic or paper straws on request, and flexible plastic straws will still be available for customers with a medical necessity, according to The Seattle Times.

Any of Seattle’s 5,000 restaurants found to be violating the ban could face a fine of up to $250.

More than 200 restaurants in the city voluntarily adopted the ban last year, stopping millions of straws from entering the waste stream, according to Lonely Whale, an environmental group running the “Strawless in Seattle” campaign.

Seattle is believed to be the largest U.S. city to pass such a ban, though businesses and smaller municipalities have passed similar measures in an effort to cut down on ocean pollution. Other major cities, including San Francisco and New York, are considering similar bans.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced earlier this year that the U.K. would become the first country to ban plastic straws nationwide as part of a plan to get rid of plastic waste by 2042.

–Updated on July 2 at 9:52 a.m.

Tags Environment plastic straws Seattle Waste

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