SACRAMENTO, Calif. — People who want straws with their drinks at California restaurants will have to request them under a new law.
The law signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown makes California the first state to bar full-service restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws. It takes effect next year.
The law doesn’t ban plastic straws outright like some cities have. San Francisco and Seattle passed bans earlier this year.
California restaurants that don’t comply will get two warnings before being fined up to $300 per year. It will apply only to full-service restaurants, not fast food establishments.
Democratic lawmakers who support the policy call it a small step toward reducing ocean pollution.
Brown, who has made environmental issues a signature priority, pointed to the large amount of plastic dumped in oceans every year that can kill whales and fish and contaminate people’s food and water supply.
“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Brown wrote in a statement. “Plastics, in all forms — straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. — are choking the planet.”
Critics argue California’s new law is government overreach that won’t significantly improve the environment. Some say restricting straws hurts disabled people who rely on them.
Some Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure said it would unfairly punish restaurants, although the restaurant industry didn’t oppose the proposal.