From: The GW Hatchet
MEDIA CREDIT: GRAEME SLOAN | CONTRIBUTING PHOTO EDITOR
Plastic straws are officially banned in D.C. and restaurants will have until July to completely discontinue use of the product.
D.C. officially became the second city in the country to prohibit plastic straws when a citywide ban went into effect Tuesday.
The D.C. Council passed the ban – which prohibits the use of plastic straws and drink stirrers – in July and it began on the first day of 2019. Restaurants and food vendors in the District have until July to comply with the new mandate by discontinuing straw use or providing an alternative made of materials like paper or hay.
The D.C. Department of Energy and Environment is now inspecting businesses for compliance and will issue a notice of violation to businesses that distribute plastic straws. After the transition period ends in July, the department will also issue fines, according to a release.
Zachary Rybarczyk, a member of the enforcement team at the department, told WAMU that some businesses in the District have switched to straws made of hay and other alternative materials.
“We’ve seen restaurants switch over to paper straws,” he told WAMU. “And we’ve also seen restaurants using reusable straws – also popular in bars.”
Americans use an estimated 500 million straws a day, according to the environmental advocacy organization Ecocycle.
The ban was proposed in July by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans – who represents Foggy Bottom – and co-sponsored by eight other members.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned plastic straws last year and announced her support for Our Last Straw, a coalition of businesses, organizations and individuals calling for reduced plastic waste.