Planning on using a plastic straw in Santa Barbara? Then get set for six months in jail

In order to ensure that pollution stays under control, Santa Barbara in Calilfornia is introducing harsher punishments on use of plastic straws

                            Planning on using a plastic straw in Santa Barbara? Then get set for six months in jail
(Source:Getty Images)

Plastic pollution has become a cause of concern all over the world and many places are banning plastic in its various manifestation in order to take control of the situation. However, one area in California is relying on harsher punishments in order to ensure that no laws which facilitate less usage of plastic are broken. O July 17, the Santa Barbara council passed a bill banning the distribution or sale of plastic straws. This means that the supply of plastic straws at bars, restaurants, and other establishments, and plastic stirrers and cutlery, will only be made available to the customer upon request. The ordinance, which is currently being revised, comes into practice from January 1, 2019. 

Despite the strict penalties prescribed by the law, it does include exemptions in consideration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ordinance was previously criticized for not taking into considerations the needs of some disabled people to use flexible, plastic straws to drink.

According to Reason, the city has made this law of plastic straw ban as an administrative infraction. 

This means that anyone who is found disobeying the law a second time risk a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail. The maximum penalty stands in contrast to Seattle, which became the first major US city to ban plastic straws in July. The maximum fine there for breaking the law is just $250.

However, as explained by Santa Barbara's Environmental Services Outreach Coordinator, Bryan Latchford, the fines will only be imposed on businesses who refuse to abide by the law. "Jail time or stiff fines are not the intent for first-time offenders," he said. He further added that it would be very hard for an employee to see jail time or a $1,000 fine with the new ordinance. The city's recycling team will also help get people educated on the entire process of recycling. 

"Rarely do we need to issue warning notices, much less administrative fines for infractions," he said. Bryan also clarified that the unlike the previous take on this plastic ban, this law ensures that everything is in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act. 

"The ordinance brought forward to the City Council exempts food or beverage providers from this ordinance in the instance that they provide, distribute, or sell a plastic beverage straw to a person for whom non-plastic alternatives are unsuitable due to a mental or physical condition," he said, as reported by KEYT.

The website reports that "other exemptions include products with plastic straws prepackaged outside the City and then sold within the City, providers with financial hardship, and public health and safety exemptions." 

As reported by  Santa Barbara Independent, only five restaurants within the city limits objected to the straw ban. They aim is to reduce the amount of plastic dumped into the ocean.