On October 9th, 2018, Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-1 to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the distribution and sale of plastic straws and stirrers as well as limitations to the distribution of plastic cutlery which can only be provided "upon request".
-This ordinance went into effect July 1, 2019-
"Restrictions on the Provision of Plastic Straws, Stirrers, & Cutlery" Full Ordinance Text (PDF)
What does it do?
What does it NOT do?
Why are compostable plast-based plastic straws not permitted?
Polylactic acid or PLA is a plastic material made from plants instead of traditional petroleum-based plastics. If certified compostable, this material can only be composted in a commercial composting facility with high heat and processing. When these PLA straws get into the natural environment like our creeks and oceans they act like a traditional petroleum-based straw. There are currently no plant-based PLA straws that are certified compostable in a marine environment and therefore they are being treated as a marine pollutant.
Who does this affect?
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 are there?
Exemption Request Form (English)
Exemption Request Form (Spanish)
What penalties are there?
Our Trash & Recycling business outreach team interacts with Santa Barbara businesses on a daily basis to address a host of recycling, foodscraps composting, trash service, plastic bag use, and nuisance topics. By practice, City staff works proactively to use education as a first line of compliance with all trash and recycling programs and it has proven successful for environmental programs. Our team will continue to educate and assist businesses in finding alternative products to gain compliance prior to the adopted ordinance's operative date.
The penalties for violation of this Chapter shall be as follows:
A. For the first violation, a written warning notice will be issued to the beverage provider or food provider in order to confirm their understanding of the ordinance and the potential penalties in the event of future violations.
B. The second and each successive violation shall be punishable by civil administrative fines pursuant to Chapter 1.25 of this Code (civil penalties referenced in Chapter 1.28 are not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for each day or part thereof that said violation occurs). This Chapter shall not be criminally enforceable.
C. Violations of this Chapter shall be deemed to create a public nuisance. The City Attorney may seek legal, injunctive, or other equitable relief to enforce this Chapter. Each and every piece of plastic cutlery, plastic beverage straws, or plastic stirrers provided in violation of this Chapter shall constitute a separate violation of this Chapter and a continuing nuisance.
For questions about this ordinance please email: email@example.com