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Del Mar moves toward plastic straw ban

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Del Mar City Council at its meeting on Jan. 14.

Del Mar restaurant-goers may soon have to either forfeit drinking straws all together or use more biodegradable alternatives.

The city council on Jan. 14 gave its first green light to an ordinance that would regulate plastic straws and stirrers as part of an effort to reduce plastic pollution that is harmful to the environment. The action will also help the city meet its Climate Action Plan goals, according to a city staff report.

“All plastics photodegrade and remain in the environment for hundreds of years,” the report reads. “Small pieces end up on the beach and in the ocean and further degrade into smaller pieces that are ultimately ingested by marine life, sometimes with fatal results, and become a human health risk as it enters the food chain. Degrading plastic in landfills can leach chemicals into groundwater that can be a source of drinking water.”

Last September, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1884 requiring dine-in restaurants to provide plastic straws only upon request.

China has also changed its policy regarding plastics, including limiting the type and amount of plastic it accepts from the United States for recycling, according to the report. Because of this, it’s important that Del Mar take proactive steps to reduce its use of all plastic materials, the document reads.

In 2016, Del Mar banned single-use plastic bags. Last year, the council moved toward regulating and prohibiting disposable ware made of Styrofoam.

In the straw ordinance — which would need another approval from the city council before being finalized — Del Mar restaurant customers will no longer automatically be given a straw. If they request a straw, however, the restaurant can give them paper, biodegradable or reusable straws.

Because the item was moved to the consent calendar, no council or public discussion took place.

The council is expected to review the ordinance in a second reading and possibly adopt it as law at a future meeting. If the ordinance passes, it would become effective 30 days after adoption. Restaurants would have six months to comply with the law.