The plastic straw ban movement is gathering momentum in the United States. Several US states, cities, and counties across the country have introduced legislation to ban plastic straws, and more are considering following suit. The motivation for this ban is to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans and other ecosystems.
The plastic ban has become a trending topic over the years. A lot of environmentalists and government agencies joined forces to spread awareness in the community and educate everyone about the adverse effects of single-use plastics on our planet, particularly on our health and marine life.
By implementing restrictions or at least placing strict limits on single-use products made from petroleum-based materials, consumers and businesses are encouraged to utilize more sustainable alternatives like reusable shopping bags and organic drinking straws.
To show our support as citizens and to avoid penalties, it's important that we know the rules, especially if you are a business owner who wants to stay compliant with any restrictions in your area. If you also love to travel or just enjoy going on road trips through different states, it's also an advantage to check out what each state or country requires or restricts before heading off to your next adventure! But where exactly are these restrictions implemented?
How many states have banned plastic straws?
It's sort of challenging to find a comprehensive database of single-use plastic legislation. It's because these ordinances vary in every county, city, and state. Bottom line? We currently don't have Federal legislation for single-use plastics.
Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act — the First-Ever bill introduced in 2020 aims to reduce single-use plastic nationwide. It was still with the Senate for review as of March 2021. A bill like this, however, can take years to pass at the federal level. Until then, the responsibility for limiting single-use plastic products falls down the ladder.
States that supported and implemented Plastic Straw Ban
Several US states have banned single-use plastic straws, including California, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Their passionate advocacy to save the Earth from the harmful effects of plastic straws has inspired other states across the US to participate and take action.
Here’s the list of states that support banning single-use plastic straws. ‘Though not all states listed here have implemented a statewide ban, at least most of the cities and counties in these states have started passing a bill to address environmental and health concerns.
California was the first state to prohibit full-service restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws when Assembly Bill 1884 took effect on January 1, 2019. This law outlines that customers should only be given plastic straws upon request. Restaurants caught violating this law could face a fine of $25 per day and up to $300 per year.
Colorado is the first inland state to enact legislation to phase out single-use plastic products. On July 7, 2021, Governor Jared Polis signed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (HB 21-1162) into law— statewide legislation to address the plastic pollution crisis.
Management Of Single-use Products (HB20-1163) prohibits stores and retail food establishments from providing single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use plastic stirrers, single-use plastic straws, and expanded polystyrene food service products to customers at the point of sale. The prohibition may be enforced by the executive director of the department of public health and the environment.
Beginning January 1, 2022, HB 6502 restricts a full-service restaurant owner or operator from providing a single-use plastic straw except if the customer requests one. But, this rule cannot prohibit a restaurant from providing a single-use plastic straw to someone with a disability.
The Delaware Senate passed a bill on June 9, 2022 that effectively prohibits restaurants from providing styrofoam food and beverage containers and single-use plastic straws unless the customer requests.
Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, who sponsored Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 134, said that this is one of the bills where Delaware set the example in protecting the environment.
No statewide plastic straw ban is implemented in Georgia as of this writing but a couple of cities including Atlanta and South Fulton have approved the ban on non-compostable plasticware including single-use plastic straws.
Honolulu City Council took the lead to restrict food vendors from providing single-use plasticware like plastic straws beginning January 1, 2021. The islands of Hawaii are famous for their beaches so let’s all hope that other cities will consider implementing the same measure.
Illinois HB3379 (Plastic Straw Ban Act) outlines that no restaurant, bar, or any business selling food may provide single-use plastic straw.
*Plastic straw can only be given upon request.
Though Indiana does not have a statewide ban at the moment, local businesses and restaurants already started banning plastic straws. Consideration is still given to customers with a disability, they just have to ask for one.
If passed, Bill Request 999, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, would ban the use of single-use plastic straws (including styrofoam food and beverage containers) by July 1, 2023.
Kentucky will also restrict plastic bags and the intentional release of plastic balloons Under the same bill by July 1, 2025.
On June 12, 2021, Gov. Mills signed LD 1541 into law to hold manufacturers responsible for their waste disposal. The advocacy to prevent pollution from single-use plastic straws didn’t end there. (Big thanks to Maine lawmakers!) In March 2021, LD 602 was introduced and became effective starting January 1, 2022. This bill only authorizes food establishments to provide single-use drinking straws only upon the request of the customer.
A statewide ban is currently not implemented in the state of Maryland but several counties have taken action including:
- New Prince George’s County - CB-52-2019 effective July 1, 2020
- Montgomery County - Council Bill 32-20 effective May 1, 2021
- Takoma Park County - Ordinance 2019-5 effective January 1, 2020
A bill endorsed and favored by the Environment Committee restricts Massachusetts businesses from distributing disposable plastic straws unless a customer requests one. Other cities that imposed a ban and supported the initiative were Andover, Chelmsford, Gloucester, Harwich, Lexington, Melrose, Provincetown, Rockport, Swampscott, and Somerville.
By 2024, the sale of all single-use plastics will be banned except if there’ll be no sustainable alternatives (imPASTA got you!). Bill 6505 would charge restaurant owners if caught giving plastic straws without the customer’s explicit request. Kudos to the Michigan retailers that expressed their support!
The House Environment & Natural Resources Policy Committee approved HF3388. A companion bill SF756 was also introduced to restrict restaurants from giving single-use plastic straws except upon request or a customer gets a straw from the self-service dispenser.
Mississippi lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 2071 as they aim to implement a ban on single-use plastic straws in food establishments. Sadly, this bill didn’t succeed and died in committee in February 2021.
SB120 proposed by Sen. Malek was heard by the Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs Committee in February 2019. This would have restricted the distribution of single-use plastic straws unless requested by a customer but unfortunately didn’t get the approval from several members of the committee. For some of them, it’s about educating the people, not implementing a law.
Nevada is known for its 5-star hotels and casinos, attracting a lot of tourists to the state. While Nevada has not enacted a statewide ban on single-use plastic straws yet, many of the state's hotels and resorts have implemented a ban.
NH House voted to ban plastic bags and limit plastic the use of plastic straws. Under House Bill 558, food service businesses would be prohibited from providing single-use straws to customers unless they request one.
A written notice will be served on the first and second violations. Further violations will be subject to a $25 fine per day with a cap of $300 a year. Local law enforcement and the Dep't of Environmental Sciences would enforce the proposed law.
A statewide plastic straw ban took effect in New Jersey in November 2021. Food service businesses and restaurants can only provide single-use plastic straws upon request.
New Jersey Dep’t of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe proudly said that their legislature continues to make NJ a national leader in protecting the environment and educating the public.
A statewide ban on plastic straws hasn’t been implemented but several cities already took the lead to create a greener New Mexico.
Sante Fe council raised awareness and encouraged restaurants to look for alternative options to replace single-use plastic straws.
Albuquerque City Council members proposed legislation to ban single-use plastics including straws at retail establishments by January 2020. Plastic straws would only be given upon request to accommodate people with disabilities.
Since November 1, 2021, food service establishments in NYC are restricted to provide single-use plastic straws, except upon request. Beginning November 1, 2022, plastic ban (Local Law 64 of 2021) violators will be fined up to $400. Dine-in restaurants are encouraged to place a sign that reads “Plastic straws only available upon requests”.
Though a statewide plastic straw ban is slightly far from reality, some bars and restaurants took the initiative to phase out the use of plastic straws mainly because they are not recyclable and often end up in the ocean. Michelle Voelpel, spokeswoman of The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill said that it was not a hard transition to make and that they want to do their part by only giving straws upon request.
Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 90 into law to ban the distribution of single-use plastic straws, except if the customer requests one. This rule exempts drive-thrus, health care facilities, and some convenience store settings.
PA lawmakers already considered introducing an ordinance to ban plastic straws and plastic bags. As legislators strive to implement a statewide law to ban or at least limit the use of plasticware, local districts of several counties in the state have started joining the environmental force against plastic pollution.
Wester Chester Borough (Chester Country) followed their footsteps in July 2019 after Borough Council approved a ban on plastic straws and bags. West Goshen Township also set regulations concerning the distribution of single-use plastic bags and straws.
Newtown Township recently passed a resolution encouraging residents, visitors and businesses to voluntarily participate in reducing the utilization and distribution of single-use plastic straws, bags, and polystyrene containers. Other boroughs in Bucks county that have passed and considered working on a resolution or legislation were Solebury and Doylestown which residents supported!
The RI Senate passed statewide bans on single-use plastic straws and plastic bags. Effective January 1, 2022, bars and restaurants are no longer allowed to provide plastic straws unless the customer specifically requests one.
On November 27, 2018, a plastic ban was signed into law in Charleston, South Carolina. The ordinance specifies that compostable or recyclable alternatives should be used to replace plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic straws, and stirrers. Violators are subject to a fine or worse license suspension if a business will repeatedly violate the city's ordinance.
Enforcement started in January 2020, the same date wherein Single-Use Plastic Regulation took effect in James Island, SC.
Vermont S.113 was signed into law in June 2019 and took effect on July 1, 2020. Under this comprehensive ban, food service establishments should not provide single-use plastic straws unless requested by a customer.
Seattle pioneered the ban on plastic straws on July 1, 2018.
The Recycling, Waste, and Litter Reduction Law took effect on January 1, 2022, in Washington. Yet to clarify, this law is not to totally ban plastic utensils but rather stops restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws (or other utensils). Customers have to specifically ask if they want one or get one at self-service stations.
On January 1, 2022, The recycling, Waste, and Litter Reduction Law took effect in Washington. Yet to clarify, this law does not impose a total ban on plastic utensils but stops restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws (or other utensils) — meaning customers have to specifically ask if they want one or get one at self-service stations.
Some State Lawmakers Opposing Plastic Ban Legislation
While the majority of the states across the country support the ban on single-use plastic straws, there are still some of ‘em opposing it. Sadly, several legislators from the opposition submitted a bill to forbid local governments from enforcing any ordinance that will limit or restrict the utilization and distribution of single-use plastics, may it be drinking straws, shopping bags, or beverage cups.
Some lawmakers who did not support the plastic ban movement were from the following states:
As Plastic Straw Ban continues to be a hot topic, more states or local cities and counties may consider making or implementing their legislation. Until a nationwide ban on plastic straws is approved, it's best to keep ourselves updated with the laws governing the community where we belong. This way, we can all stay compliant, avoid the hefty penalty, and save our businesses from suspension.
Have we missed anything on this list? Let us know in the comment section!
FAQs about Plastic Straw Ban in the US
So, how would I know if there's a plastic straw ban in my area?
You may check out the resources we've linked in this blog or browse the web using keywords like "plastic straw ordinance in + (city or state where you are in or where you plan to go)" or something like "plastic straw ban in + the place where your business is located."
Most ordinances are available on your local government's website so try to explore and search for keywords like "plastic straw" or "plastic ban."
How do I stay compliant?
Bans on plastic straws vary in every state, city, and county. Make sure to thoroughly read the ordinance and pay attention to important details such as effectivity date, scope, penalty, and requirements. When in doubt, ask your local government.
Now, if you don't have the time to constantly check on these updates and want to be worry-free, it's best to switch to organic drinking straws like imPASTA!
It is gluten-free, vegan, compostable, and biodegradable but won't give you that soggy paper-mouth feel, unlike paper straws which most people think are the most practical and eco-friendly alternative (not really!)