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LA City Council Wants to Ban Single-Use Plastic Straws by 2021

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Governor Brown signed a straw restriction in September, but LA’s initiative is an outright ban

Europe Struggles To Reduce Plastics Pollution Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Following on the heels of California’s statewide plastic straw ban Assembly Bill 1884, the Los Angeles City Council proposed a Plastic Straws on Request initiative yesterday. The action takes a bold step beyond Governor Jerry Brown’s recent effort. If passed, the Council’s effort will initiate a citywide single-use plastic straw ordinance to phase out single-use plastic straws by 2021.

Nury Martinez co-introduced the far-reaching initiative with fellow Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell in what might be the country’s most ambitious plastic straw ban. On September 20, Brown signed AB 1884, which requires full-service restaurants to provide plastic straws upon request after January 1, 2019. Fast food restaurants were exempt from AB 1884, with violations resulting in fines from $25 to $300.

Martinez and O’Farrell collaborated with business owners and advocacy groups for the initiative. On the same day, O’Farrell also gave the Bureau of Sanitation 90 days to report on the challenges of phasing out single use plastic straws within three years, while figuring out ways to minimize the impact on the disabled community.

2018 seems to be the designated year for Southern California cities to adapt or address plastic straw bans. O’Farrell and Martinez co-introduced a similar motion in January. In August, LA Councilman Bob Blumenfield proposed legislation to launch a “plastic utensils on request” ordinance in LA. Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Malibu passed their own local ordinances concerning plastic straws and Styrofoam in 2018.