Councilmember Guillén Proposes Limits On Plastic Straws In Restaurants

A beverage at Taco Zamorano. | Photo: Jeremy Brooks/Flickr
By Cirrus Wood - Published on April 12, 2018.

Councilmember Abel Guillén has proposed legislation aimed at reducing Oakland’s consumption of single-use plastic straws. Though not an outright ban, the ordinance would require food facilities to offer customers plastic straws only upon request.

“Plastic straws pose a long-term threat to marine life, waterways and natural habitats,” said Guillén. “There are easy, convenient and economical ways around this environmental-health problem, like 'straw on request only' rules, and Oakland should be a leader in this effort.”

Guillén’s proposal would be in line with ordinances already passed in Davis and San Luis Obispo, where plastic straws are provided only upon customer request.

Shakewell now uses paper straws. | Photo: Shakewell/Facebook

Elsewhere in the East Bay, Berkeley is considering the effects of a ban on all single use plastic straws, while Alameda has considered a more comprehensive ban on single-use food-related plastics. At the state level, Majority Leader Ian Calderon introduced Assembly Bill 1884 in January, a measure stipulating that all dine-in restaurants adopt a straw-upon-request policy.

Guillén proposed the ordinance on March 15th, and while it was due for debate at the city council’s April 10th session, discussion was deferred until the 24th due to time constraints. However, some local restaurateurs aren’t waiting.

“We made the move to compostable straws years ago because it supports zero waste goals and is right for our business,” said Maria Alderete, co-owner of Luka’s Taproom & Lounge. Luka’s will move to a straw-upon-request policy starting on Earth Day, April 21st.

Tim Nugent, owner of Shakewell, said he supports a citywide policy. “It connects what makes good business practice with what's good for our environment,” said Nugent. Shakewell already uses a straw-upon-request policy and switched to paper straws earlier this year.

Environmental advocacy group Save the Bay has also given its support to the proposal as a way to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in local wetlands. 

As with an earlier ban on plastic bags, Guillén said he's optimistic that businesses and the city as a whole will see the positive consequences of the ordinance after it's passed.

“It’s a sensible policy that may actually help reduce costs and save time for businesses, and customers will welcome the positive ecological benefits,” he said.

About 6 hours ago

Free public WiFi coming to large sections of Oakland

Oakland is closing the digital divide with a $7.7 million CARES Act grant that will provide free public WiFi to as much as 85% of the city. Read More

Nov 24, 2020

Oakland location of Shake Shack plans December opening

Popular New York-based burger chain Shake Shack, which just opened its first San Francisco location earlier this year, is readying its Uptown Oakland outpost for a mid-December opening. Read More

Nov 20, 2020

The BlaQ ArTed Short Film Fest set to debut in Oakland this weekend

The inaugural BlaQ ArTed Shortfilm Festival kicks off this Sunday with an opening night drive-in event at Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center. Hosted by The East Bay Queer Healing Arts Center, the festival highlights the work of nine emerging youth filmmakers from the East Bay. Read More

Nov 12, 2020

Donut Savant opens new location in East Oakland — with long lines and salted maple cronuts in tow

After shuttering its downtown Oakland location last October, Donut Savant debuted its new East Oakland store today to large, socially distant crowds. Read More