Encinitas moves toward plastic straw ban

Encinitas has vowed to do its part in reducing the 500 million plastic straws that Americans use every day. Soon, if you want one with your drink in Encinitas, you'll have to ask for it.

On March 21, the Encinitas City Council unanimously approved the Environmental Commission's recommendation for an ordinance so that straws will be distributed only if a customer requests one.

The Commission report, written by Vice-Chair Jim Wang, states that plastic straws are largely a gratuitous luxury used just once, but which then persist and harm the environment for centuries.

"During that entire period, they endanger wildlife, constitute unsightly litter, and release toxins. Their short-term benefit does not justify their long-term cost," it continues.

According to the report, Encinitas may use as many as 100,000 straws daily. A straws-on-request-only policy will reduce that number significantly, lower costs to restaurants, help the environment, and, perhaps most significantly, build public awareness of plastic waste.

Supporters of the request-only policy believe that Encinitas is the start of a wave of cities adopting such policies.

"Encinitas may be the first city in the county to adopt a straws-on-request policy, but it's only the first of many," said Taylor Leigh Cannizzaro, chair of Surfrider's Rise Against Plastics Committee.

Some restaurant representatives argue that environmentally-friendly straws cost more, but Cannizzaro counters that Surfrider has negotiated with Aardvark Straws so that their paper straws are cost-competitive with plastic straws.

By approving this measure, Encinitas joins a growing list of California cities taking action against plastic straws, including San Francisco, Davis, Malibu, and San Luis Obispo.

— Submitted news release

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