SF targets drinking straws in latest plastic purge


Plastic straws could soon be shown the door in San Francisco, just like plastic bags, in order to protect the environment.

Supervisor Katy Tang on Tuesday introduced legislation that would prohibit the distribution and sales of plastic straws as well as plastic sticks to stir drinks, plastic toothpicks, and plastic splash sticks.

The ordinance would ban any foodware products that have fluorinated chemicals in them and any foodware labeled as compostable must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute, city officials said.

Additionally, any events on city property with more than 100 in attendance must have at least 10 percent of any cups as reusable under the proposed legislation.

Tang made the announcement with supervisors London Breed, Ahsha Safai and and Department of Environment Director Debbie Raphael at a press conference at the Boba Guys Fillmore location to announce the proposed legislation to keep plastic waste out of the ocean.

About one million straws are used every day in The City, Tang said:

“Straws suck and we are no longer going to allow for plastic straws here in San Francisco.”

Tang added:

“There are a lot of great alternatives such as paper straws and metal straws.”

Raphael said there are costs to the environment when it comes to single-use plastic materials:

“We see impacts to marine life and to our oceans. We see impacts to our city streets through litter.”

Breed, a cosponsor of Tang’s proposal, said The City has led the way in combating environmental issues including Styrofoam ban and plastic bag ban:

“Here in San Francisco, we just don’t talk about being environmental leaders. We are setting the trend for the rest of the country to follow.”

Safai said nine out of 10 times a person probably does not even need a straw with a cup.

Boba Guys, known for its milk tea specialty drinks in The City, is already taking steps to make sure their cups and straws are environmental friendly.

Co-founder of Boba Guys Bin Chen said the company is already selling reusable drinkware and straws:

“This is a huge opportunity and we’re in the right place in San Francisco to do it.”

The proposed legislation would take effect on July 1, 2019 if approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed by the mayor.

Other cities that have similar bans on plastic straws include Alameda, Santa Cruz, Davis and San Luis Obispo.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay and covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Follow Jerold on Twitter @jerold_chinn. Email tips to

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