New California law: Want a plastic straw at a restaurant? Ask for it

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Chicago voters approved a ban on plastic straws by 55 percent, though the referendum was non-binding. | AP file photo

A new law bars California restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws with drinks, starting next year.

The bill, which only applies to full-service restaurants, was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. Customers who want a plastic straw still willbe able to request them from the restaurant under the law.

“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Brown wrote in a signing message, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it,” Brown said, the Times reports.

With the passage of the bill, California becomes the first state to bar restaurants from automatically giving outplastic straws.The law, however, is less restrictive than some passed by cities such asSeattle.

Restaurants not in compliance with the law will receive two warnings; they can be fined up to$300 per year. The restaurant industry did notoppose the proposal.

It is estimated that Americans use 500 million straws per day and straws are among the top 10 marine debris collected during the International Coastal Cleanup, according to Sailors for the Sea, a nonprofit organization.

The anti-plastic straw movement gained momentum when a video showing rescuerspulling a straw from a sea turtle’s nostril went viral in 2015.


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