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Proposed Plastic Straw Ban

**UPDATE: On July 24th, 2018 City Council moved to bring this proposed ordinance back to the ordinance committee for further discussion.**

Santa Barbara City Council is considering the adoption of an ordinance prohibiting the distribution and sale of plastic straws as well as limitations to the distribution of plastic stirrers and cutlery which can only be provided "upon request". 

Other Key Facts:

  • This ordinance is currently proposed and has not been adopted.
  • Jail time and fines are not proposed for anyone who uses a plastic straw or provides one to a customer.
  • The proposed ordinance includes exemptions in consideration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
  • This ordinance would become operative at 2:01am on January 1st, 2019.

Proposed Plastic Straw, Stirrer, & Cutlery Ordinance Summary as brought forward on July 17th, 2018

Proposed Ordinance Text (PDF)

What would it do?

  • Prohibits food providers and beverage providers from using, providing, distributing, or selling plastic beverage straws to any person.
  • Prohibits food providers and beverage providers from providing plastic cutlery or plastic stirrers to any person unless the person asks for them or "upon request".

Who would this affect?

  • Beverage Providers - any business, organization, entity, group, or individual located within the City that offers beverages to the public for consumption. (E.g. bars, coffee shops, smoothie shops)
  • Food Providers - any person located within the City that is a retailer of prepared food or beverages for public consumption including, but not limited to, any store, supermarket, delicatessen, restaurant, shop, caterer or mobile food vendor.
  • City facilities or any City-sponsored event

What are the alternatives to plastic straws?

1) Reusable Straws are the best alternative!

For residents that frequent coffee, smoothie, or other beverage shops, we recommend making a reusable straw (and cup) part of your daily routine. Reusable straws are available at many retailers and come in a range of materials like bamboo, stainless steel, and silicon to name a few. If you bring your reusable cup, many vendors also offer discounts.

For businesses that offer beverages, providing a reusable straw that can be added to your normal dishwasher cycle will save you money over time. Reusable straws generally cost a little more money upfront but you will no longer be spending money on single-use straws that end up in the trash or the environment.

2) Single-use Straw Alternatives

If a reusable option isn't available, paper straws are a great alternative and come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. There are also thicker more durable paper straws for businesses that require a longer lasting straw. Paper straws can also be composted in our Business Foodscraps Program yellow bins.

What exemptions would there be?

  • This ordinance would not apply to products packaged outside the City and then sold within the City.
  • Food or beverage providers would be exempt 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 that qualifies as a disability pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ( 42 USC § 12102).
  • Financial Hardship or Practical Difficulty Exemption would be available for food or beverage providers for up to one-year if the provider can demonstrate, in writing, that this ordinance would create an undue hardship or practical difficulty as evidenced by no alternatives being available or such alternatives are not affordable to the food provider or beverage provider. 
  • Public Health and Safety Exemption would be available for food or beverage providers who demonstrate, in writing, that there is a public health and safety requirement or medical necessity to use the product. 

Please see Proposed Ordinance Text for exemption specifics, application overview, and approval process.

For questions about this ordinance please email:

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2016
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