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Plastic straws in California restaurants now must be requested

Businesses ramp up plastic straw bans
Businesses ramp up plastic straw bans 01:10

California restaurants won't be giving patrons straws unless people explicitly ask for them.

A law signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown makes California the first state to bar full-service restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws. It takes effect next year.

California restaurants that don't comply will get two warnings before being fined up to $300 per year. 

The law doesn't apply to fast-food establishments, and it doesn't ban plastic straws outright, like San Francisco and Seattle did earlier this year. But Democratic lawmakers who support the policy call it a small step toward reducing ocean pollution.

Brown, who has made environmental issues a signature priority, pointed to the large amount of plastic dumped in oceans every year that can kill whales and fish and contaminate people's food and water supply.

"Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences," Brown wrote in a statement. "Plastics, in all forms — straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. — are choking the planet."

Critics argue California's new law is government overreach that won't significantly improve the environment. Some say restricting straws hurts disabled people who rely on them.

Some Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure said it would unfairly punish restaurants, although the restaurant industry didn't oppose the proposal.

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