Ban on plastic straws gaining momentum

Posted at 5:18 AM, Dec 06, 2017

A push to ban single-use plastic straws from San Diego restaurants appears to be gaining momentum.

"When you order a glass of wine, you don't need one, so why do you need one in a margarita?" said Mikey Knab, the operations director for Ponce's, a Mexican restaurant in Kensington. 

Knab said he decided to get rid of plastic straws after seeing a video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its face, impacting its ability to breathe. Instead, the restaurant offers paper straws when a customer asks. Problem is, they only last for a couple of drinks, and they cost 12 cents apiece. The plastic ones cost about a penny.

Knab says Ponce's isn't passing that cost onto customers, but he can see it happening in the industry if more restaurants ban the straws. California already banned single-use plastic bags, and grocery stores now charge a dime for each, by law. 

The self-imposed straw ban seems to be picking up.

In North Park, Bar Pink is only selling stainless steel straws for $1 each. And in University Heights, Small Bar is now considering a way to eliminate single-use plastic straws.

Currently, the Surfrider Foundation lists about 100 local restaurants, many larger, that only serve straws upon request.

Jacob Barron, a spokesman for the Plastics Industry Association, says plastic straws aren't the problem.

“We can all agree that straws should not be littered. The vast majority of litter happens as the result of someone purposely littering. Whether the straw is made of paper or plastic, it should be disposed of responsibly.  We need to think before we toss and invest in lasting solutions so that no plastic product, no matter how small or seemingly trivial, ends up where it shouldn't," Barron said in a statement.

Marco Gonzalez, an environmental attorney, says in addition to plastic straws, there are still concerns over mass junk mailings, and non-grocery plastic bags polluting.