California is the first US state to ban plastic straws in restaurants

California has become the first US state to enforce a ban on restaurants handing out plastic straws to diners unless specifically asked for them, in a move lawmakers hope will make customers “pause and think again” about their disposable plastic consumption.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Thursday which prevents restaurants from giving plastic straws to customers, but warned that the law, which comes into effect on 1 January, would be limited in its scope.

The law only applies to the state’s dine-in restaurants, which means it excludes cafés, fast-food outlets and businesses which provide takeaway options.

However, Brown said the law still counts as a “small step” towards challenging the widespread use of disposable plastic in the on-trade.

“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,”  Brown said, according to the San Fransisco Chronicle.

“It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it, and it might make them pause and think again about an alternative.

“But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.

“Plastics, in all forms — straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. — are choking our planet.”

The bill comes as many hospitality firms and restaurant groups in the US have already begun to phase out the use of plastic straws on their premises.

Hilton Hotel group has said it plans to remove plastic straws from all managed hotels around the world by the end of 2018, as well as axing plastic water bottles from its conference rooms.

Then in July, Marriott International announced plans to ban plastic straws from its hotels worldwide, months after the chain committed to cutting down waste in its UK businesses.

The chain said in May that guests get through around 5 million plastic straws each year, while people attending business meetings and conferences at Hilton hotels use up to 20 million water bottles annually.

Bacardi was among the first to call time on plastic straws and stirrers, banning their use across its events in 2016 in an effort to reduce waste as part of its ‘Good Spirited’ campaign, and Pernod Ricard followed suit in January 2018.

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