California Governor, Jerry Brown, has signed a law that will see California become the first state to ban restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws without request. Customers will now have to ask for a straw with their beverage if they wish to use one. Another law signed will see milk or water required to be provided as the default drink included in kids’ meals at restaurants and fast-food venues. The laws will be in effect from next year.
While the new laws are not a total ban on straws or soda drinks, the aim is towards encouraging environmentally-friendly and healthy practices within the food and beverage industry. Democratic Senator Bill Monning said the sugary drink law was created to combat health problems including diabetes and obesity.
“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences. Plastic, in all forms – straws bottles, packaging, bags, and the like are choking the planet. It’s a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it,” said California Governor, Jerry Brown.
Restaurants in the state that do not enforce the laws regarding straws will be issued with two warnings before receiving a fine of up to $300 per year. The straw law does not affect fast-food establishments, just restaurants where customers are waited on. Health inspectors will enforce the law in restaurants in their respective areas.
Fast-food chains and restaurants can still sell juices and soda with kids’ meals on request; however, milk, dairy-free alternatives, and water in still, sparkling or flavoured varieties must be provided as the default and be displayed on menus advertised.