Following California's recent move requiring full-service restaurants to distribute plastic drinking straws only by request beginning in January, two Los Angeles city council members are seeking to craft a local ordinance that would take the restriction even farther, ultimately banishing single-use plastic straws from the city by 2021.
Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and Councilwoman Nury Martinez hosted a conference Tuesday to discuss the idea.
"Plastic straws play a negative, outsized role in harming our environment and as a coastal city, we have a responsibility to act," O'Farrell said in a written statement.
A January proposal by O'Farrell and Martinez calls for all restaurants and food service providers to only hand out plastic drinking straws if specifically requested by customers, officials said.
"Straws on request is another step by the L.A. City Council to remove more trash from our waste stream, a waste stream that currently and historically flows through communities I represent," Martinez said.
During Tuesday's Energy, Environment and Social Justice Committee Meeting , O'Farrell instructed the Bureau of Sanitation to study the issue and report back within three months on the feasibility of completely phasing out plastic drinking straws in Los Angeles over the next few years. He also instructed them to look into ways of mitigating the affects on people who depend on straws due to physical disability.
Several local business owners joined the officials in calling for the change, along with representatives from the environmental organization Heal the Bay.
"Since 2000, Heal the Bay volunteers have picked up over 121,000 straws and stirrers from Los Angeles County Beaches," Heal the Bay President and CEO Shelley Luce said. "It's heartening to see businesses recognizing the problem and becoming part of the solution."
Two Los Angeles city council members ha