In a pioneering environmental move the entire city of Seattle has banned plastic utensils and straws. This may sound strange, especially if you don’t know about the problem of plastic accumulating in the ocean. (See the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.)
Looking for a plastic straw to sip your soda? If you’re in Seattle, you’re out of luck. A city ban on plastic straws and utensils in bars and restaurants went in effect Sunday, in the latest push to reduce waste and prevent marine plastic pollution.
Seattle is believed to be the first major U.S. city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service, according to Seattle Public Utilities. The eco-conscious city has been an environmental leader in the U.S., working to aggressively curb the amount of trash that goes into landfills by requiring more options that can be recycled or composted.
The city’s 5,000 restaurants will now have to use reusable or compostable utensils, straws and cocktail picks, though the city is encouraging businesses to consider not providing straws altogether or switch to paper rather than compostable plastic straws. …
Environmental advocates have been pushing for restaurants and other businesses to ditch single-use straws, saying they can’t be recycled and end up in the ocean, polluting the water and harming sea life. A “Strawless in Seattle” campaign last fall by the Lonely Whale involving more than 100 businesses voluntarily helped remove 2.3 million single-use plastic straws. …
Supporters say it will take more than banning plastic straws to curb ocean pollution but that ditching them is a good first step and a way to start a conversation about waste and ocean conservation. By some estimates, Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day, with some parts of the ocean now containing more plastic than fish.
Good start. It seems we should have solar powered aquatic clean-up drones out there by now cleaning up and perhaps making power from all the plastic waste.
Plastics have a high energy content that can be converted to electricity, synthetic gas, fuels and recycled feedstocks for new plastics and other products of chemistry. Recovering this abundant energy also reduces waste sent to landfills and complements plastics recycling.
From one perspective, in the long run all trash on Earth is recycled no matter where we put it, but it is still not smart in the timespan of our generation and the next few to damage or destroy earth ecosystems with our waste.