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Limiting the Use of Plastic Straws: Businesses and Conservation

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Limiting the Use of Plastic Straws: Businesses and Conservation


By DeAnn Flores Chase September 04, 2018    Category: Business Law     Tags: businesses and conservation complying with environmental laws plastic straw ban

Limiting the Use of Plastic Straws: Businesses and Conservation

The new ban on plastic straws spreading across cities in California is just one example of legislative bodies reacting to constituent pressure to take steps, however small, to try and encourage environmentally friendly decisions. Whether or not these sorts of rules should be legislated or allowed to evolve naturally due to customer pressure can be debated endlessly, but the repercussions for businesses, as conservation is mandated, must be discussed.

There is a fine attached to handing out plastic drinking straws if your business is located within one of the cities that has passed the ban. As more and more cities pass the ban, businesses across the state will start to comply with the rule, especially as more larger cities like San Francisco bring the rule online. The proposal in San Francisco would also ban takeout containers treated with fluorinated chemicals, and napkins and utensils with takeout orders unless specifically requested. In addition to San Francisco, Malibu and Santa Cruz voted to ban plastic straws and utensils unless specifically requested. Manhattan Beach, Davis, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo, similarly, passed a ban on straws.

Many big businesses aren’t waiting for a state or federal law to make the rule, instead making policy changes to react to consumer pressure. Starbucks, American Airlines, Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt have all announced plans to remove disposable plastic straws, drink stirrers, and other disposable plastics from their properties.

What Does the Straw Ban Mean for Businesses?

For businesses in areas where a straw and other plastics ban is in effect, compliance means avoiding hefty fines and other potential penalties.

Another detail business owners should pay attention to, especially in cities that have passed and are actively enforcing the ordinance, is whether it contains an exemption for disabled customers and those who benefit the most by having access to straws. Make sure you’re aware of local laws and exemptions and pay attention to when these rules go into effect.

Generally, there’s a lag time between when the law passes and when enforcement starts to allow businesses to make the transition. This means making sure regular customers are informed, your plastic straw stock is used, and you have an opportunity to research and invest in an alternative if you think it’s useful for your business.

Complying with Environmental Laws

While many criticize the straw ban as being a drop in the bucket of the waste being generated, a release by one lawmaker claimed that, during California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, straws and stirrers were a commonly collected item and are an item that is generally only used once, if at all, before becoming trash. This and other steps are designed to help curb consumer’s use of these products and businesses reliance on reusable plastic.

This is also a good time to confirm that your business is in compliance with all current laws and regulations pertaining to your industry. There are numerous other environmental laws businesses owners should be aware of. From how to safety remove and dispose of asbestos when remodeling to the correct way to contain certain types of waste, it’s important to know the laws that impact your business. That’s why having a relationship with a business attorney who understands your industry can help ensure you’re aware of the specific laws, and changes to those laws and regulations, that apply to you and your business.

Making the Business Decision

In areas where the plastic straw ban is in effect, it’s always a good business decision to comply. After all, no one wants to face fines that run into the thousands of dollars and potential jail time for handing out a straw when other alternatives exist.

Ultimately, the best way to comply with this ban, and other rules and consumer trends, comes down to the owner(s) making a business decision. You may want to offer paper straws instead of plastic, offer re-usable drinking straws for sale, or simply use cups with no straws unless requested. With other environmental bans, you may find you need to invest in reusable drink stirrers, cardboard takeout boxes, or simply a marketing campaign that shows all the different positive things your establishment does to be environmentally friendly.

If you’d like some help reviewing the different California and local laws and regulations that apply to your business, reach out to DeAnn Chase and the team at Chase Law Group, P.C. by calling (310) 545-7700. They will take the time to get to know your specific business and goals, ensure you have the knowledge and systems in place to comply with any relevant rules, and keep you informed if there are any changes coming up that may make a difference.