Skip to comments.Left-Wing Politicians Wage War on Plastic
Posted on 07/03/2018 12:04:05 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
After a ban on non-biodegradable utensils went into effect over the weekend in Seattle, local officials are advising food service businesses to [s]top using plastic straws and plastic utensils.
An ordinance pending before the New York City Council would make that citys food service businesses the next front line in liberal politicians war on plastic straws.
For the last two months, the New York City Council has deliberated over a bill that would make it a civil offense for any food service provider in the city to offer customers straws or stirrers made of plastic or any other non-biodegradable material. If passed, violators could face a fine of $100 for their first peccadillo and steeper fines for repeat offenses.
Supporters of straw bans argue that serious global pollution problems demand drastic local solutionsparticularly, the use of non-biodegradable straws. And they have a point: Plastic straws cannot be recycled and they can be blown into waterways.
Still, New Yorks proposed lawand others like itmay be a problem in search of a solution.
It rides on a wave of plastic straw laws coming out of California cities: Malibu, Davis, and San Luis Obispo have each passed ordinances that restrict the distribution of plastic straws in restaurants.
A broader environmentalist campaign against plastic straws and stirrers reaches from Seattle to Miami Beach, Florida.
The rules in each city vary. Some, for example, carry criminal penalties, while others do not. Miami Beach targets straw delivery to beachgoers, while Seattle prohibits plastic straws, stirrers, and cocktail picks in restaurants throughout the city. The single purpose behind all of these rules, however, remains to combat pollution.
When Malibu officials proposed a plastic straw ban, they cited figures familiar to many an eco-justice warrior, claiming that 500 million single-use plastic straws are discarded per day across the nation.
That figure was first recorded in 2011 by Milo Cress, at age 9, after he asked manufacturers how many straws they produce a day. Since 2011, that data has been featured by various entities ranging from Cress own nonprofit, Eco-Cycle, to the National Park Service.
To their credit, New York City Council members are not relying on data created by a 9-year-old. They are, however, relying on data that has no clear connection to New York.
City Council member Rafael Espinal explained: Its no secret that we have a plastic problem. It is estimated that there are 13 million metric tons of plastic clogging our oceans and that 100,000 marine creatures die from plastic entanglement every year.
If New York City officials want to address global pollution, they have options other than passing a new law.
Of course, they can engage with volunteers to clean up local waterways that feed into the ocean. They can work with local businesses, who already have strong interests in keeping their facilities clean, to promote public awareness of the issue. But they need not try to legislate a solution, because there are already more littering laws than you can shake a straw at.
New York City sanitation regulations (§ 16-118) provide that [n]o person shall litter any rubbish and refuse of any kind whatsoever, in or upon any street or public place , subject to fines of $50 to $250 or more for repeat violations.
Surely, the phrase of any kind whatsoever is broad enough to cover plastic straws and stirrers, but theres more.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation also provides that littering or misusing a waste receptacle, polluting park waterways, and unlawful dumping are all separate offenses.
And two separate New York state laws prohibit littering on highways and adjacent lands and on railway or subway tracks.
With all of those tools at their disposal, officials seem to have covered the waterfront. They should not pretend that another local law is necessary to reduce pollution. Outcomes from less ambitious policy experiments suggest as much.
For example, Illinois amended state law to specifically criminalize littering cigarette butts in 2014. However, in 2015, volunteers with the Alliance for the Great Lakes were still picking up more cigarette butts around Lake Michigan than any other trash item, just as they were before the new law took effect.
Taking a more direct approach, when New Yorks subway system experienced an uptick in fires and floods due to litter buildup, officials doubled littering fines and transit authorities increased enforcement. If plastic straws and stirrers are now plaguing the Big Apple, city authorities can again emphasize enforcement of existing littering rules.
What the straw ban movement may need is a more localized analysis of the costs and benefits of proposed rules. By comparison, non-plastic alternatives often cost more, do not hold up as well to hot liquids, are not as widely available as plastic straws, and individuals with certain disabilities need straws to drink. Those factors may give rise to unintended consequences of plastic straw bans.
Research has also cast doubt on the benefits of straw bans. Bans can play a role in addressing ocean pollution, says oceanographer Kara Lavendar Law, but [w]e are not going to solve the problem by banning straws.
Scientists have estimated that all the plastic straws littering global coastlines represent less than 1 percent of the approximately 8 million tons of plastics that enter the oceans each year, while abandoned fishing equipment accounts for a much larger piece of the problem.
Straw bans may not offer much of a solution to those problems.
What they can do is compel covered restaurants to eat the cost of their existing plastic straw and stirrer inventory, purchase more expensive biodegradable straws and beverage stirrers and pass those costs on to customers, and open their businesses to bureaucrats checking inventory for non-biodegradable straws.
Never mind that restaurant workers must already comply with health codes covering, among other tasks, properly taking out the trashwhich can be amended if necessary to address any blow away straw problems.
The nonprofit Riverkeeper, for its part, helps clean the Hudson River by promoting volunteer events like Riverkeeper Sweep. Established in 2011, the event has brought together 10,000 volunteers to collect 191 tons of waste.
Rather than waste tax dollars on straw sting operations, local officials should encourage private and nonprofit action and enforce the laws that are already on the books.
Another new law is not always the answer.
The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now
Nutty Plastic Straw Nanny State PING!
What about New Jersey beach whistles?
They outlawed biodegradable paper bags and went to plastic bags, are we going to go back to paper and wood again? We used to drink from paper straws, can’t they make up their minds, global warming, global cooling...
Frankly, they should just stop the thousands of home septics that pour into The Mohawk and Hudson Rivers and it would be equivalent to cleaning up a trillion trillion tons of waste.
These people are just getting nuttier every day.
It’s all on the west coast. Where do they think the pollution on their beaches comes from? Kansas?
Since the prevailing wind blows west to east, the trash ain’t coming from the US, but of course, it’s still our fault.
I can honestly say that plastic straws are the least of the litter I see lying around.
The worst litter,to me,are disposable diapers.
When is the west coast going to ban them?
A few years ago, I moved to loony, progressive environmentalist utopia Maryland.
I couldn’t believe how much more trash was on the ground than the Detroit suburbs I came from. An amazing amount.
These lunatics don’t care about conservation, they care only about control.
Any restaurant that doesn’t give me a straw with my iced tea doesn’t deserve my business.
Meanwhile, a huge global study of the plastic engulfing the oceans found that more than 90% of the plastic waste there comes from ten river systems in the world. The 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of that trash are the Yangtze (China), Yellow (China), Hai (China), Pearl (China), Amur (Russia and China), Mekong (Vietnam), Indus (Tibet, Kasdmir, Pakistan) and Ganges (India) Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste into the Yellow Sea.
So western nations attacks on plastic will do what to solve the worlds plastic dumping problem?? Zero, zip, nada.
So why do the western peoples severly indoctrinated sheeple vote for such measures? Because they truly resolve some problem? No. They vote for then for one stupid reason, it makes them “feel better”. They walk away from their nonsense votes patting themselves on their back as if they had accomplished something, when they accomplished little other than increasing their meddling with the lives of everyone else.
Not to worry, China is sympatico with the France Climate Agreement so let's move on and blame Trump.
It's the Leftist thing to do!
The people who demanded plastic, and loathed the people who preferred brown paper now hate plastic and loathe the evil planet destroyers who use it.
I see a pattern.
Not allowed. You'd have to kill trees. /s
Of course I don’t agree with all of this foolishness, but you’d think BY NOW that EVERYTHING involved in take-out food would be biodegradable and/or easy to compost.
Let’s go back to paper straws and those cute little wooden spoons you used to get with ice cream cups...but made a bit bigger.
With our aging population, no one is going to be eating food that needs to be cut with a knife anyways, LOL!
And, if the Left eventually has it’s way, all White, Christian Heteros will be made into ‘Soylent Green’ to feed the unwashed masses invading our country, anyways...
P.S. Has ANYONE every been able to successfully compost an avocado pit? I was sifting my compost to get the big chunks out of it, and there had to be twenty in there - looking just as they did when I threw then in there over a year ago!
We could probably build Nuclear Reactors from avocado pits and never have a melt-down ever again, LOL!
What you say is generally true, but then we find out large western cities “export” their garbage for recycling to Asia and guess what, they don’t recycle, they throw it in the river. I read a very long article about this over the weekend. The greenies are starting to admit they caused the problem. The solutions is to burn plastic, then bury the remains according to the article.
bumpers fascia panels removed from government vehicles.
Exactly. This is a government created problem. If they'd simply get out of the way, I'm sure an actual solution would be found.