Palo Alto bans plastic straws

Bendable straws

Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto City Council voted Monday (June 10) to crack down on printed food receipts, plastic straws, cutlery, coffee stirrers and bags for produce and meat.

The ordinance bans single-use plastic food ware, requires those items to be compostable and only allows paper or compostable straws upon request. Customers who want receipts will
have to ask for them. Disposable food ware, produce bags and meat bags must be recyclable or compostable under the new ordinance.

When Councilwoman Alison Cormack asked whether exceptions would be made for the disabled, Assistant Public Works Director Phil Bobel said the city would address such exceptions through the “regulation process.” Often the disabled need bendable straws in order to take in liquids. Seattle and San Francisco, the first two major cities to enact straw bans, put exceptions in their laws for the disabled, but none were written into the Palo Alto ordinance.

The crusade against straws and other single-use plastics was spurred last year by Girl Scout Troop No. 60016, which worked with the city to launch a “straw awareness campaign” reminding consumers that 500 million straws are used each day in the United States and are among the top 10 marine debris items found on beaches.

The council voted unanimously in support of the proposal last night, with Councilman Tom DuBois absent.

Councilwoman Liz Kniss said the ordinance was uncontroversial.

“You can buy compostables at any of the big stores,” Kniss said. “I hope that this is going to make a difference for us as a community and for us, frankly, as a country.”

Mayor Eric Filseth agreed, stating that he thinks “we can live without plastic straws.”

Councilman Greg Tanaka fretted about the restric- tions on receipts, pointing out that receipts are “such a little piece of paper.”