On July 24, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a ban on plastic straws, joining other cities including Vancouver, Berkeley, and Seattle. Known as the Single-Use Food Ware Plastics, Toxics, and Litter Reduction Ordinance, the legislation was authored by District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang and bans plastic straws as well as fluorinated chemicals in food ware products. Plastic stir sticks, plastic toothpicks, and other single-use, nonrecyclable plastic items will also be banned.
According to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, 67 percent of Bay Area litter that goes into the bay is single-use food and beverage packaging. “At current projections, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050,” the organization estimates. San Francisco uses one million plastics straws per day.
The bill includes an exemption for people with disabilities or conditions that require the use of straws for feeding. Some businesses, especially small businesses, have complained about the higher cost of paper straws over plastic straws; straw industry experts expect the cost of paper straws to decline as they become more popular. The law is set to take effect on July 1, 2019.