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LA Passes Law Making Plastic Straws Only Available Upon Request At All Local Restaurants

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Friday which will ban all restaurants in L.A. from offering disposable plastic straws to their customers unless they specifically request them.

The ordinance is a more restrictive expansion of a state law which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September that bars full-service restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws. However, the state law does not apply to fast food restaurants.

Under this ordinance, "all food and beverage facilities" in L.A. -- including coffee shops, fast food restaurants, street carts and food trucks -- will be prohibited "from providing or offering disposable plastic drinking straws to customers except upon customer request."

The ordinance must still be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. It will take effect for restaurants with 26 or more employees on April 22. It will then be expanded to all restaurants by Oct. 1.

The ordinance argues that more than 500 million plastic straws are used daily in the U.S., many of which end up in waterways, which can kill marine life when they are ingested.

"The City of Los Angeles seeks to address these environmental concerns by reducing the amount of plastic waste entering our oceans," the ordinance reads.

Restaurants will be given warnings for their first two violations. Each subsequent violation would carry a $25 fine.

The ordinance was first introduced by Council Members Mitch O'Farrell and Nury Martinez back in January of 2018. After examining the proposal, the L.A. Sanitation Bureau issued a report in September recommending it be adopted.

The plastic straw issue has taken on new focus, with several major companies and venues in recent months vowing to phase them out.

In September, the Honda Center in Anaheim announced it would stop supplying plastic straws to customers. Instead, recyclable paper straws would be available upon request.

Earlier this year, both Manhattan Beach and Malibu banned plastic straws and utensils at bars and restaurants within city limits.

In July, Starbucks made the sweeping announcement that it would stop offering plastic straws at all its stores by 2020. That same month, Disney announced it would eliminate plastic straws and plastic stirrers at all its theme parks and other operations worldwide by mid-2019.

In June, SeaWorld removed all single-use plastic drinking straws and shopping bags from its theme parks.

Both San Francisco and Seattle passed plastic straw bans earlier this year.

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