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Seattle Takes a Decade: Banning Drinking Straws while Plastics Take Down our Food Chain

posted Aug 10, 2018, 5:45 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Aug 10, 2018, 5:45 AM ]

Plastics are Quite Common & Unfortunately, Frequently Disposable

Some usual objects made from plastic materials include utensils, bowls, ice trays, bottles, a small electronic calculator, rope, zip ties, a compact disk(CD), a toy, packing foam, tape...

Some usual objects made from plastic materials. Many of these items are considered single use and would be discarded into landfills.  
By Cjp24 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons. Taken September 2008.
While most of the decade was spent in due process for restaurant owners and the hospitality industry in Seattle, the majority of the extensions were from there being no practical way to implement the ban. Alternatives such as paper products were not cost effective for small businesses at the time. Further, they create other environmental problems
since paper products require several times more energy to make than plastic
Opponents of the ban citing governmental waste usually begin their arguments with quality of life issues, such as use of utensils at homeless shelters or children still learning their way around utensils. Critics also cite that 90% of all plastic in the ocean are actually coming from 10 rivers, all of which are from countries in Africa and Asia that do not have the facilities for trash collection like the U.S does.

Culture, Practicality, and actually Addressing the Plastics Overtaking our Food Chain

"If you want to have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time, the best thing to do would be to help those countries collect their waste and have proper waste management," said Kara Lavender Law, a professor of research oceanography at the Sea Education Association.

The ban in Seattle may have very little impact on the issue itself. However it could, at length, aggravate innovation for a low-impact, biodegradable alternative for plastic utensils.

"We need to think about how we're using these materials, which are designed not to biodegrade," says Law, "They're designed to function for a very long time."