Should serving plastic drinking straws be against the law? That’s already the case in some parts of the world. In April, the U.K. proposed a ban on all single-used plastic items, including straws and stirrers; a month later, the New York City Council proposed a similar ban. Multiple cities in California have implemented a straw ban.
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time-use plastic straws and [their] detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways and oceans,” Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon said in a statement after proposing the California legislation in January.
Plastic straws are a big contributor to the planet’s massive waste problem: 500 million of these straws are used in the U.S. every day. Many of them end up in landfills and oceans, where they pose major threats to marine life. (Editor’s note: This statistic originates from an informal survey of straw manufacturers done in 2011 by Milo Cress, who was 9 years old at the time. Cress has since told Reason that the National Restaurant Association has endorsed his estimates.) According to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s “Give a Sip” campaign, around 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles are found with plastic in their stomachs — a situation that can often be fatal.
Proponents of straw bans argue that considering the many alternatives to conventional plastic straws, getting rid of the kind that can’t be composted or recycled should be easy. Others contend that such bans could be harmful for people with disabilities. According to the One in Five disability rights campaign, metal straws can be a risk for those with neurological conditions. The group argues that an entirely viable alternative needs to be available before businesses cut ties with plastic straws.
“Businesses are understandably responding to environmental concerns, but in reacting so quickly, the needs of their disabled customers risks becoming an afterthought,” One in Five founder Jamie Szymkowiak told BBC.
While there is some opposition from corporate brands — McDonalds’ shareholders, for example, voted against a companywide ban on plastic straws in May — other businesses are wholeheartedly embracing the idea. The hotel and hospitality industries are some of the biggest polluters in the game, so any move to reduce that contribution deserves recognition.
(Editor’s note: Mic will continuously update this list of businesses and cities in the U.S. that ban the single-use item.)
Restaurants and cafes
Joe Coffee’s 18 branches will switch to 100% compostable straws made from cornstarch by July.
“The cost to us will be four times higher,” owner Jonathan Rubinstein told Bloomberg, noting the switch wouldn’t affect menu prices.
The Chicago restaurant group, which owns DMK Burger Bar, Fish Bar, ADA Street, County Barbecue, Henry’s Rec Room, Fort Willow, Werewolf Coffee and Marshall’s Landing, did away with plastic drinking straws in 2017.
Ted’s Montana Grill
The restaurant, which has more than 45 U.S. locations, serves paper straws with its beverages.
The lobster joint began hiding straws from guests in 2014 and only provided them upon request.
“In 2017, we decided that the scientific evidence and numbers showing the environmental damage caused by straws was too great to give out non-compostable straws, period,” Ben Conniff, president of the restaurant group, said in an email. “At this point, no shacks carry straws except [those] that serve iced coffee, which use compostable straws.”
The fast-casual Indian eatery no longer puts out straws in any of its three locations, though customers can still get straws upon request.
“Straws are a small, nonessential beverage accessory that we found people aren’t super attached to,” owner Basu Ratnam told the New York Times. “We have been able to change customer behavior without being disruptive.”
Revival Food Hall
Chicago’s food hall has recently implemented a “Try Not to Suck” initiative for its 15 in-house vendors, according to a press release. Straws are available upon request request at Revival Café-Bar and a few other stalls.
Lettuce Entertain You restaurants
The restaurant group will be removing plastic straws from all of its 120 restaurants beginning in the fall of 2018. “Lettuce’s goal is to transition all restaurants to utilize natural and biodegradable alternatives including paper, hay, biodegradable plastic straws but most importantly, none at all,” a spokesperson said in an email. “We are excited to be among one of the largest restaurant groups to implement this policy in every restaurant from fine dining to fast-casual.” The group’s restaurants are found in nine states.
Fox Restaurant Concepts
Fox Restaurant Concepts, which operates almost 50 locations and 13 concepts throughout the U.S., including Olive & Ivy and The Henry, has nixed plastic straws from all of its properties. Eco-friendly alternatives will be available upon request.
Starbucks announced that it’d be retiring plastic straws in all locations by 2020. The coffee giant has launched a “strawless lid” that resembles a the top to a sippy cup, which is already served at some locations on Nitro Cold Brew. It is also developing paper and biodegradable straw alternatives.
Eataly said it’d be removing plastic straws from all of its locations by July 31, Gothamist reported. The announcement was made just before a City Council committee hearing on the bill that would ban plastic straws in New York City was held. Actor Adrian Grenier, who’s been campaigning against plastic straws for some time, was in attendance.
Starting July 15, the coffee shop will remove straws from its 10 coffeebars in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, a spokesperson said in an email. Customers will be offered a compostable straw upon request and the shops will be selling reusable metal straws for $3 a piece. To extend the impact, Intelligentsia will provide discounts to customers who bring their own cups.
Shake Shack announced it’d be joining the straw crusade, banning plastic straws from its restaurants by the first quarter in 2019. No word yet on what the chain will be providing for customers to slurp up their shakes.
Hotels and cruises
All Edition Hotels stopped offering plastic straws at the beginning of 2018. “We came to a really hard stop and no one complained,” Ben Pundole, the hotel chain’s vice president of brand experience, said in a phone interview.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Royal Caribbean will eliminate plastic straws on all of its cruise ships by the end of 2019, Cruise Hive reported. The policy will also apply to the company’s other brands, including Celebrity Cruises, TUI Cruises and Pullmantur Cruceros.
“Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company,” chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. “For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program.”
1 Hotel describes itself as “the first mission-driven luxury hotel brand, where nature inspires everything we do.” The chain’s New York and Miami hotels offer biodegradable straws upon request, and many of its hotel rooms are equipped with filtered water fountains and glass cups in lieu of plastic water bottles.
In May, Hilton announced a new commitment to cutting its environmental footprint in half while doubling its social impact investment by 2030. Part of the strategy, of course, includes doing away with plastic straws.
“Hilton has committed to removing plastic straws from all of its 650 managed hotels globally, which will save an estimated 35 million straws per year from potentially ending up in the ocean,” a spokesperson said in an email, adding that all hotels will be plastic-straw-free by the end of 2018.
The hotel group is in the process of removing all plastic straws from its properties.
“It’s the least we can do as an industry to set a tone and start to make these slight changes that could have a massive positive impact on the way we live,” Jason Pomeranc, cofounder and creative director of Sixty Collective, said in an email.
Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
“Being environmentally friendly isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have,” Scott Gingerich, senior vice president of Kimpton’s 87 restaurants and bars, said in an email. “We’re always evolving our operational best practices. Right now, we’re proactively working on ways to replace single-use plastic straws with compostable or metal straws, and/or serve drinks without straws altogether.”
Kimpton has implemented other environmentally friendly practices, including key cards made from recycled post-consumer plastic and recyclable to-go cups and bags.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will eliminate plastic straws from all locations by the end of 2018.
“Nearly 20% of our properties worldwide have already made the switch to biodegradable straws made of paper, bamboo or corn,” Christian Clerc, president of worldwide hotel operations, said in an email.
After Sept. 1, all of Hyatt’s 14 properties will supply straws and picks upon request only and certain properties will supply eco-friendly alternatives. The company includes 700 properties in more than 50 countries.
“Eliminating plastic straws and drink picks builds on the environmental sustainability programs we have in place and further drives our global efforts to reduce environmental impact,” s Frank Lavey, senior vice president, global operations for Hyatt, said in a company press release. “This is a meaningful step, and our commitment doesn’t stop with straws and drink picks. We will continue exploring viable alternatives everywhere we can.”
The city implemented a “straws on request” ordinance at the start of 2018. Further, all “disposable to-go foodware” must be reusable, compostable or recyclable, according to a press release.
Carmel City Council enacted a multi-phase ban on plastic straws and utensils Jan. 1, first requiring Carmel businesses to provide straws and other disposable items upon request only. The ban’s second phase, which began in April, mandated that “restaurants and food vendors that utilize disposable food service ware use biodegradable, compostable or recyclable products,” the Monterey County Weekly reported. “This requirement would apply to single-use disposable items such as beverage straws, cup lids and utensils.”
A city ordinance specifies that sit-down restaurants can distribute plastic straws only when requested.
The city instilled an official ban on plastic straws and other single-use plastic items, including cutlery, June 1. Malibu, which forbid the use of plastic shopping bags in 2008, is often an early adopter of environmentally sound practices.
Manhattan Beach, California
The city’s ordinance is similar to others in California in that customers must request straws and utensils. When they do, Manhattan Beach businesses are required to supply items made of nonplastic materials like wood, metal, bamboo, fiber or glass. Bioplastics, polylactic acid plastics and #7 plastics are prohibited, according to a press release. The city is offering a grace period for businesses to “exhaust their existing supply of plastic straws and utensils”; full compliance begins Jan. 1, 2019.
Oakland’s straw ordinance prohibits restaurants, bars and cafes from distributing plastic straws unless they are specifically asked for by a customer.
The Richmond Food Wares Ordinance was amended in May to require disposable food wares to be made with compostable or recyclable materials. It also prohibits plastic straws and stirrers from being distributed by local businesses.
San Luis Obispo, California
The city passed two ordinances in October 2017 that require restaurants’ customers to request single-use plastic items rather than receive them instantly, the Tribune reported. The legislation also limits the distribution of single-use plastic bottles and cups.
Fort Myers, Florida
This city passed an ordinance on the distribution of plastic straws in November 2017. Straws made of materials like paper, plant matter or other nonartificial, nonsynthetic materials are allowed, News-Press reported.
Miami Beach, Florida
The city enacted a partial ban on plastic straws from the beach in 2012, targeting mostly beachfront hotels and vendors that contributed to litter on the shorelines. In March 2018, Miami Beach made plans to tighten its regulations, drafting an ordinance to ban plastic straws.
Monmouth Beach, New Jersey
The ban of plastic straws, bags and food containers was put into effect on June 1 in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. Local restaurants, grocers and street vendors are prohibited from using the items and could face fines greater than $2,000. “This is right for the Jersey Shore and all towns,” Mayor Sue Howard said, NJ.com reported. “Living on the shore you’re sensitive to the environment. Not only do we care about where we live, we want to protect that (broader) environment for our children for the future.”
Beginning July 1, Seattle business will be prohibited from serving plastic straws, cutlery and cocktail picks, KOMO News reported. The city is working to convince businesses to switch to compostable paper straws instead of compostable plastic straws, since the former are marine biodegradable.
Edmonds has resolved to get straws out gradually, MyEdmondsNews reported. The site continues:
“By the end of 2018, the City of Edmonds will no longer provide single-use straws, stirrers or cutlery on city premises. Beginning in January 2019, vendors at city events — Taste Edmonds or the Edmonds Arts Festival for example — will be prohibited from using those products. In early 2020, a city council ordinance would be introduced to put the ban into effect.”
At the start of June, the computer company announced it’d end its reliance on plastic straws. “Dell North America alone uses more than 50,000 plastic straws a month. They cannot be recycled, which means eliminating them will help us meet our 2020 Legacy of Good goal to reduce waste,” Stephen Roberts, the company’s sustainability strategist, wrote in a blog post. Roberts wrote that the company will implement the effort later this summer, first starting in U.S. cafes, bistros and break rooms and “expanding globally shortly thereafter.”
The Swedish-founded company has announced plans to phase out all single-use plastics from its stores and restaurants by 2020. These items include straws, plates, cups, freezer bags and more, which will be replaced with environmentally friendly alternatives.
SeaWorld Entertainment announced in June that all 12 of its theme parks have done away with plastic drinking straws as well as single-use plastic shopping bags.
The Chicago White Sox worked in partnership with Shedd Aquarium to ban plastic straws from its stadium. It is the first Major League Baseball team to do so. Patrons at Guaranteed Rate Field will be provided with biodegradable options upon request, EcoWatch reported.
Know of a chain or company that’s implemented the ban, but don’t see it on this list? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 16, 4:04 p.m.: This article has been updated.