Plastic Straws, by Request Only (SIGNED)

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

In an attempt to curb plastic pollution, AB 1884 would ban full-service, dine-in restaurants from offering single-use plastic straws unless they are requested by customers. Restaurants violating the law would be subject to warnings and small fines. The law exempts fast-food establishments, a major source of plastic straws.

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

Introduced by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, Democrat from Whittier, the bill was supported by prominent environmental groups like the National Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club California. Organizations concerned with preserving beach and ocean health were especially keen on the bill.

WHO’S OPPOSED

In this case, it’s more important which interest groups didn’t oppose it. The California Restaurant Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the Plastics Industry Association did not fight the bill. That’s partly because it fell short of an outright ban, spared fast food chains, and the enforcement penalties appear relatively light. Conservative legislators did express their opposition to the bill as an unnecessary regulatory burden.

WHY IT MATTERS

The bill represents the latest in a growing string of California laws aimed at keeping oceans, rivers and other parts of the environment free from plastic trash. Four years ago, California became the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags. Environmental groups hope that, much like the plastic-bag ban, other states will follow California’s example on the issue.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 20, 2018.

From his signing message: “Plastics, in all forms—straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.—are choking our planet. It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it.”

—Matt Levin