LA city law restricting plastic straw use at restaurants to go into effect

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new city law requiring restaurants in Los Angeles not to serve plastic straws unless requested by customers goes into effect Tuesday.

The first phase of the "Straws on Request" initiative went into effect in April on Earth Day, and applied to restaurants with more than 26 employees. The second phase expands the ordinance to include restaurants of all sizes, including fast food and sit down businesses.

Under the city ordinance, restaurants can only provide plastic straws if a patron asks for one.

Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and the city's Bureau of Sanitation held a press conference Monday morning in Echo Park to remind restaurants of the law.

O'Farrell said the law seeks to reduce "single-use plastic waste from littering our beaches and waterways."

The ultimate aim is to completely ban straws in L.A. within the next few years in an effort to clean up the environment, especially debris that flows into the ocean.

New York city, San Francisco and Seattle are among other cities forcing restrictions to curb the use of plastic straws.

Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws every day, according to a report from the nonprofit Lonely Whale.

Many restaurant owners see its impact firsthand.

"If we serve plastic, we see it on the floors, we see it in the water. We see it with, you know, animals," said Josh Estrada, partner and operations manager at The Beach in Echo Park.

Enforcement of the ordinance will be based on complaints. Restaurants will face fines of $25 per violation, with a maximum total fine amount of $300 per year.

The next step is to phase out all single-use plastic straws by the year 2021, and motions across the state are aiming to eliminate all single-use plastic items by the year 2030.
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