City leaders put forth proposal to limit use of plastic straws in Los Angeles

- Several City Council members put forth a proposal Wednesday to require Los Angeles restaurants and food service providers to distribute plastic straws to customers by request only as a way to cut down on trash and pollution.

Mitch O'Farrell and Nury Martinez co-introduced -- and Mike Bonin seconded -- the motion looking to create an ordinance regulating the use of plastic straws, and for the Bureau of Sanitation to report on options that business owners may use as alternative materials for straws.

"As a coastal city, we have a responsibility to address the damaging consequences of using plastic straws, one of the top pollutants harming the environment and endangering our marine wildlife,'' O'Farrell said. "I want to encourage businesses to provide plastic straws by request only,  or offer environmentally friendly alternatives such as biodegradable or reusable straws."

The motion cites a recent Los Angeles Times editorial that said Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws each day, and that the items contribute heavily to pollution in the oceans.

The City Council motion also would direct staff to report on current legislative proposals that seek to minimize the use of plastic straws and whether the city should adopt a position.

"We need to move past our dependency on plastic straws,'' Martinez said. "Too many are ending up in our landfills, on our streets and in the ocean. A straws-on-request ordinance would allow customers to decide whether they really need something they'll throw away in a matter of minutes, and prompt businesses to look into more sustainable alternatives.''

On Tuesday, Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, said be plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit sit-down eateries in California from providing straws to customers unless they are requested, although it would exclude fast-food restaurants.

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