Plastic straw ban: Out of Seattle and on to Washington state

Plastic straw ban: Out of Seattle and on to Washington state

FILE - This July 17, 2018 file photo shows wrapped plastic straws at a bubble tea cafe in San Francisco. If you want a straw with your drink you may soon have to ask at California restaurants. Lawmakers in the Assembly voted 45-20 Thursday, Aug. 23, to send Gov. Jerry Brown a bill to bar full-service restaurants from giving out single-use plastic straws unless customers request them. It wouldn't ban straws as some cities have. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

A Democrat from the Eastside is proposing to ban plastic straws across the State of Washington.

“Single use plastic straws are in our waters really polluting our rivers and the Sound and everything. It really seemed like it was time to take a look at our use of plastic in general, but plastic straws in particular,” said State Senator Patty Kuderer.

Kuderer represents the state’s 48th District, which is essentially Bellevue. The Eastside Democrat says this proposal was born from research by students at Lake Washington High School. She took the research and found some of her own to craft her bill that will ban single-use plastic straws by July 1, 2020.

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But Kuderer’s proposal has one condition.

“That we create outreach to our disabled community and find out what we need to do to meet those needs? Because there are some people who actually need plastic straws in order to get their nutrition,” she said.

“I’m very concerned about my folks who have disabilities and difficulties consuming food and that actually need these straws, these articulated straws in order to eat, and I want to make sure that we don’t have an outright ban of everything and then come back to find out that there are people who need these,” Kuderer said.

She says the idea is to come up with a reasonable balance between banning the plastic straws and allowing them for people who genuinely need them because, “quite simply they’re wasteful,” Kuderer said.

Under her proposal, the state health department and DSHS would have to work together on outreach and report back to the Legislature by the end of this year with recommendations to ensure there are not any unintended consequences for people with disabilities. For the rest of us, Kuderer says there are other options.

“There’s paper straws, there’s actually steel straws and then there are no straws,” she said. “You know as one person said to me ‘I drink my iced coffee now without a straw and it tastes just the same.’ We need to be more conscious of what we do to our environment. This is our home, and what it’s doing to our food supply – you know these plastics breakdown and they create nanoparticles that get into our food and this is a real concern.”

And she says her proposal may not be the only one targeting plastics this session, with chatter that other lawmakers are working on bills targeting all plastic.

But Kuderer believes given the state of the situation, it’s time to seriously address this issue.

“We’ve seen the garbage dump that’s floating around the Pacific Ocean that’s three times the size of Texas and a lot of that is plastic in there, and it’s choking our marine life, it’s getting into our food supply – the nanoparticles like I said – and I think we need to be more serious about taking care of the environment and not being so wasteful,” Kuderer explained.