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Plastic Straws Will Soon Disappear From Your Favorite LA Restaurants

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Reducing your plastic footprint is incredibly difficult, as reporter Jill Replogle learned when she tried to eliminate all plastic waste for a month, but the city of Los Angeles has taken another step in that direction.

This morning, the L.A. City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to require all food and beverage facilities to only provide disposable plastic straws upon request.

The ordinance will go into effect for businesses with more than 26 employees in April. The rest will have until October to make the change.

Councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Nury Martinez introduced the measure last year. Their hope is to move toward a complete phase-out of plastic straws by 2021.

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California State law currently bans full-service restaurants from giving out plastic straws but this city ordinance would expand the rule to include all food and beverage providers.

A photo illustration shows a Starbucks plastic cup on July 9, 2018 in Washington,DC. (DOUGLAS CURRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The rule would affect 32,000 facilities in the city including street cart vendors and food trucks. Food facilities would also be forbidden from putting out plastic straw dispensers.

Health and medical facilities are exempt. Hospital cafeterias, for example, can continue to supply plastic straws.

For some restaurants and vendors, this won't be a problem. Many of Southern California's boba shops are well ahead of the regulatory curve. They've already transitioned to reusable metal or glass straws.

Our heavy plastic use makes for some grim statistics. Plastic straws can take 200 to 300 years to decompose, according to studies referenced by the city.

Plastic cups and straws used by tourists on a beach near Athens, Greece on June 26, 2018. The Mediterranean is one of the seas with the highest levels of plastic pollution in the world. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images) (Milos Bicanski/)

During the council meeting, councilmember O'Farrell referenced a study by the World Economic Forum that shows by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans.

"Let this be something that brings larger attention to the issue in terms of the plastics that end up in the ocean," O'Farrell said before the vote. "We can all act locally. We can all take some personally responsibility with minimal disruption or inconvenience."

The ordinance states that businesses that violate the straw ordinance will receive a written warning the first and second time. After that, officials will levy a fine of $25 for each day the business is in violation although fines can't exceed $300 per calendar year. Any money collected from these fins will go into the Citywide Recycling Trust Fund.

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If you want to get a jump start on preparing for the ban, make a quick and easy donation to LAist and you'll get your own reusable straw set. Help the environment while supporting local journalism. It's a win-win.

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