Seattle announced Monday that it is the first major city in the United States to bar restaurants from serving plastic utensils and straws to its customers.
KIRO reports that Seattle, a city home to more than 5,000 food service providers, is the first in the nation to ban the plastic items as of Monday, and the city claims it is doing it to become more environmentally friendly.
Starting July 1, restaurants in Seattle are not allowed to give customers plastic straws, utensils, or cocktail picks unless a customer specifically asks for one—and in that case, the city urges restaurants to give customers a “compostable option,” according to a notice released by Seattle Public Utilities.
Customers who need to use flexible plastic straws for medical reasons will also be able to request them from restaurants.
“Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world’s oceans, and I’m proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban,” Mami Hara, the general manager of Seattle Public Utilities, told KOMO.
City officials encouraged restaurants to use their remaining supply of plastic utensils and straws before July but asked the restaurants to contact Seattle Public Utilities if they could not meet that deadline.
Seattle’s latest ban originated from a 2008 ordinance banning one-time use items for food service but rolled out exemptions for certain items every year since then, the Seattle Times reported.