SEATTLE - Starting today (July 1, 2018) eating or drinking with plastic is banned in Seattle as the new plastic ban kicks in.
Most restaurants switched over to compostable or biodegradable options years ago, so many consumers may not even notice a difference.
“It feels the same like a regular plastic straw,” said Susan Little as she fiddled around with the new compostable straws at Starbucks.
“I think it becomes the talk of the town for a minute and then people don’t really notice,” said Sean Briere who picked up food to-go in a biodegradable container in Fremont.
About 5,000 permitted food service business will no longer provide plastic straws and utensils.
“We can get rid of more wastage, better for our environment, better for the future, better for the children in the future, better for everyone,” said Little.
This ban comes a decade after Seattle first adopted an ordinance in 2008 requiring all one-time food service items to be recyclable or compostable.
“We’re clogging up our oceans and rivers with plastic and we have many more options, if you can just use those options,” said Briere.
Duke Moscrip of Duke’s Seafood and Chowder says the restaurant switched from plastic straws years ago, as did many other restaurants in Seattle.
“When they first introduced it was really expensive. We didn’t switch over because we anticipated this ordinance, we switched over then because it was the right thing to do,” said Moscrip.
He says today biodegradable and compostable are more affordable for businesses. Moscrip says customers appreciate businesses who are environmentally conscious.
“There is a growing number of people who care, and [when] they know you’re doing it, they really believe in it,” said Moscrip.
"I think people care but I don’t think people are programmed enough to bring their own utensils,” said Little.
But Briere is programmed enough: "There’s probably like five or six in there,” she said as she pulled out sets of compostable utensils in her backpack.
“It’s because I travel, so I like to keep them on me and I’d rather have the compostable ones than the plastic ones,” said Briere.
She doesn’t stop there. "I use metal straws at home because I make smoothies a lot. And, I actually have a brush for my straw to clean it. It’s so embarrassing,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t know I think about it as much until I’m having this conversation,” she added.
One tourist visiting from Philadelphia joked he’s taking his biodegradable ice scream spoon home as a Seattle souvenir.
The city says they will be lenient on businesses who have a stock of plastic utensils and focus on the coming year to help businesses with compliance rather than enforcement.
Seattle Public Utilities says those who don’t make the change could face a $250 fine.