Plastic and Compostable Plastic Straw Ban Now in Effect
Source: City of Santa Barbara
Plastic Free July, a worldwide campaign to reduce single-use plastics, is upon us and with that the City of Santa Barbara’s Plastic Straw, Stirrer, and Cutlery Ordinance goes into effect. These types of single-use materials are commonly found littered throughout our local environment, polluting our storm drains, creeks, and beaches.
Who does the ordinance affect?
· The ordinance affects providers of prepared food or beverage for public consumption. Types of affected businesses might include but are not limited to: restaurants, cafes, bars, convenient stores, caterers, and hotels.
What does the ordinance do?
· The ordinance prohibits any food or beverage vendor from distributing plastic and compostable plant-based plastic straws and stirrers. Exemptions apply.
- The ordinance also requires that all plastic cutlery, compostable plastic cutlery, and alternative single-use straws (paper, straw, candy, pasta, etc.) are required to be "On Demand". For these "on demand" items customers will have to verbally ask for them or the employee will have to ask the customer if they would like them before distribution.
Are there exemptions?
· Yes! Food or beverage providers are exempt from this ordinance in the instance that they provide a plastic beverage straw to a person in order to assure full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. We recommend that businesses have some plastic straws in stock, as for some individuals with disabilities, plastic straws are necessary to eat/drink. Creating/maintaining an inclusive environment means providing the accommodation needed for all to participate.
· Financial Hardship or Practical Difficulty Exemption – See ordinance info page for application details.
· Public Health and Safety Exemption - See ordinance info page for application details.
For ordinance explanations, business resources, and a link to the full ordinance text, visit: www.SBRecycles.org.
If you have questions regarding this ordinance or if you’re a business that needs assistance finding alternative products, please call the Environmental Services Division main line at (805) 564-5631. Our staff is here to help!
Other Common Questions
Are compostable plastic straws made from corn or sugarcane included in the ban?
Yes, compostable straws that look and feel like plastic are also banned. These straws are made of a plastic polymer derived from plants (instead of petroleum) called polylactic acid (PLA) and only compostable in some commercial composting facilities. They are not compostable in our yellow business foodscraps bins and they are not certified to biodegrade in the natural environment.
Can businesses place paper straws or plastic cutlery in a freely available container for customers to grab "on demand"?
· No, paper straws and plastic cutlery cannot be placed on the counter for customers to grab. There must be a verbal interaction whenany single-use straws or plastic cutlery are given out. "On demand" is defined as (1) the beverage provider or food provider first asks that person whether they want to receive the item and the person responds that he or she does; or (2) the customer affirmatively requests the item from the beverage provider or food provider.
· Businesses can, however, freely distribute reusable straws and cutlery to customers and then collect them for washing. Businesses can also sell reusable straws and to-go cutlery sets made of alternative materials like metal or bamboo.
Can I still go to the store to buy plastic straws in bulk or other products that include a prepacked plastic straw?
Yes you can. This ordinance does not affect plastic beverage straws, stirrers or cutlery when they are provided as a part of product that was packaged outside the City and sold within the City.