Seattle bans plastic straws, utensils

Plastic straw. File photo.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Credit: Sean Gallup

Credit: Sean Gallup

Plastic straw. File photo. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Seattle became the first major city in the U.S. to enact a plastic straw and utensil ban.

Five thousand permitted food service providers will be banned from giving customers a plastic fork or plastic straw. City and environmental leaders touted the new ban aboard Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship in Lake Union, which studies micro-plastics in the ocean.

"It's taking a stand on plastic pollution," Kate Melges of Greenpeace told KIRO 7. "And really taking a stand on what needs to happen: a ban on all single-use plastic products."

Greenpeace says 40 percent of plastics found in the ocean are from single-use plastics like straws and utensils.

The plastic utensil ban is actually part of a 2008 city ordinance that city leaders said wasn’t realistic because businesses didn’t have other options.

Duke Moscrip, founder and CEO of Duke’s Seafood and Chowder, made the switch three years ago to all compostable straws and utensils.

“When this started out they, were about 30-40 percent more expensive than petroleum-based products,” Moscrip told KIRO 7. “Now it's about 10 percent, but we did it anyway, just because it's the right thing to do.”

Now other cities, including Los Angeles and New York City, are considering following Seattle's lead.

“So, what we're starting to see based on the work Seattle has done is it's really empowering communities all over the world,” Lonely Whale executive director Dune Ives said. “To say you know we actually don't need that plastic use straws, and it's not difficult to remove it.”

As for enforcement, the city is not planning any fines, but instead working with restaurants found still using plastic utensils.

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