Illegal Plastic Drinking Straws Bill Proposed in California

Assemblyman Majority Leader Ian Calderon is trying to raise awareness of plastic waste in California. Calderon introduced Bill 1884, on January 17, 2018, that would make it illegal to provide a plastic straw at a sit-down restaurant unless requested according to Tampa Bay Times and USA Today (www.TampaBay.com/news and www.USAToday.com). Calderon is spreading the word that the reduction of plastic waste is important and often overlooked in today’s busy world. Think about how many plastic straws are served with your favorite drinks each day. Millions of straws are used each day in the United States, according to Calderon. Straws are not recycled, due to the small size and plastic resin used to produce straws. Plastic lasts forever and does not break down in the landfills. During California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, over the last few years, plastic straws and stirrers were ranked number 6 of the largest amount of trash removed. Yet, drinking a drink without a straw would be a simple change that could make a large impact on the environment in California.

While most agree that helping the environment is a great idea, the idea of making it illegal for servers to provide straws to customers who have not requested it seems harsh. The bill lists steep fines up to $1,000 and county jail time up to 6 months for providing a straw that was not requested, for each offense. Assemblyman Travis Allen opposes the bill and comments that it is government overreach.

It is a strange thought that in today’s society, you could serve county jail time for providing a customer with a plastic straw. Calderon states that this Bill is to raise awareness of the effects plastic has on the environment and not to jail servers for providing unrequested straws. The catch is under California Retail Food Code a violation is a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors can result in a fine or county jail time. This is stirring up conflict over coffee stirrer and plastic straws.