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LA's Plastic Straw Ban Goes Into Effect Today

This illustration shows plastic straws, in a studio. There are more than eight billion tons of plastic littering the planet -- the lion's share of which is not recyclable. (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
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Don't be surprised if your iced coffee looks a little different this morning - L.A.'s ban on plastic straws goes into effect today.

It will affect an estimated 32,000 facilities in Los Angeles, including street cart vendors and food trucks.

For now, the ban applies to businesses with more than 26 employees. All other businesses will need to be in compliance by October. Health and medical facilities are exempt from the new regulation.

L.A. councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Nury Martinez first introduced the plastic straw ban last year. It passed in March, and is meant to address L.A.'s role in the estimated 500 million plastic straws used by Americans every day.

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Studies have found that those straws take between 200 and 300 years to decompose, and that if efforts aren't made to counteract the use of plastic overall, the ocean could be more full of it than of fish by the year 2050.

Restaurants will get to choose what to provide to customers in lieu of plastic, but in the name of science, we did some testing of our own at the KPCC/LAist newsroom. After sampling a few different types of straws, our impromptu focus group* made the following discoveries:

  • Paper: Too soggy, too fast.
  • Metal: Too clunky, too thin and "downright dangerous."**
  • Glass: A favorite! Smooth, wide and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Bamboo: The winner. "Functional and durable."

So, let that information guide you as you go about your day, and enjoy your new guilt-free beverage this morning and from here on out.
*Full disclosure: Our focus group was comprised of only three people - producers Austin Cross and Julia Paskin, and intern Natalie El-Hai.

** Someone had a "little metal-straw-hitting-teeth incident."

Emily Elena Dugdale and Emily Henderson contributed to this report