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Santa Cruz Battles Plastic Waste One Take-Out Order At A Time

SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) -- The next time you get take-out in Santa Cruz, you may just be saving the planet.

A proposed law is banning pretty much all things plastic.

Mikala Kaaihue-Laine with Olitas Cantina & Grill said, "They're just paper, paper straws biodegradable...and then we have our green to-go bags."

Olitas Cantina & Grill is one of the few restaurants in the city of Santa Cruz that uses compostable to-go products. Their containers are made out of plants.

The restaurant is one-step ahead of the game.

But on Tuesday, the Santa Cruz City Council will consider banning plastic cutlery, cup lids, straws and containers altogether.

Mary Simmons with the city of Santa Cruz said, "Those small items are just not recyclable."

There's already a ban on certain plastic to-go products, but when the county decided to ban even smaller plastic items earlier this year, Simmons said city leaders decided it was time to follow the county's steps.

"We've been one of the first in the state to ban polystyrene packaging for to-go packaging," Simmons said. "This would just add an additional thing for some of the smaller items that weren't included in the original ban."

Nearly 500 businesses, including Gilda's restaurant on the wharf, would need to make the transition, if the law is passed.

Luke Prelgovisk works at Gilda's. He said, "You know I think it's a good idea because it does help the environment."

But compostable to-go products are more expensive and one suggestion to off-set the cost for business owners is to charge customers a quarter.

Candy Hicks is a customer at Gilda's Restaurant. She said, "I think that's a little unfair, but if that's what it takes to get rid of the plastic, then I think we need to do what we need to do."

For those who work and live in Santa Cruz they say they see trash in the water all the time and if they can do their part to keep it clean, they will.

Mikala Kaaihue-Laine with Olitas Cantina & Grill said, "If we can cut back on trash and pollution in the waters, why not? You know. It's easy. Might be a little bit more expensive, but it's worth it in the long run."

If the law is passed, another suggestion is to actually pay customers a quarter if they bring their own to-go containers.


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