Plastic and Litter Reduction Ordinance Moves One Step Closer to Approval

UPDATE 7/26/2018: Supervisors unanimously approve plastics-reduction ordinance

On July 16th, the Plastics and Litter Reduction Ordinance, or the “Straw Ban”, was presented at the Land Use Committee Hearing. After months of discussion and debate, the new ordinance banning specific types of plastic foodware and chemicals is close to being approved in San Francisco. Cities such as Malibu, Vancouver, and Seattle have passed similar acts of legislation banning straws and single-use plastics, and companies such as Starbucks and Alaska Airlines have taken similar action. Washington D.C., Oakland, and now San Francisco will soon follow suit.


The support for the new ordinance regarding single-use plastics has garnered support from all across the city, from non-profit organizations, environmental groups, and everywhere in between. Prior to the hearing, a press conference promoting the plastics and litter ordinance was held outside City Hall. Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Katy Tang made remarks, surrounded by signs with slogans like “Make it law, ban the straw!”


Supervisor Katy Tang, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, and Deborah Raphael, Director of the Department of the Environment each expressed their support for the ban on single-use plastics and fluorinated chemicals and presented a summary of the ordinance in question. Following their remarks, around 20 people participated in public comment with a wide range of opinions. The majority of people testifying expressed support for the legislation. Jim Lazarus, the Senior Vice President of Public Policy at the SF Chamber of Commerce, expressed his own agreement with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and called for more insight into the economic ramifications of this ordinance on business. Some concerns that were voiced regarded people of lower income who could find it difficult to pay for more expensive, or BPI certified, foodware, people of the disabled community who rely on plastic straws and such utensils, and also smaller non-profit organizations which would be unable to pay for reusable foodware at events (as 10% of foodware provided at events must be reusable). Recology as well as other environmental groups and non-profit organizations were also present to show support for the immense positive impact of this ordinance on San Francisco.


After the public comment portion was finished, the Committee voted to approve the legislation with recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The approval marks a significant step in San Francisco’s legislative journey to ban straws and other single-use plastics, as well as the use of fluorinated chemicals in foodware. In the coming months, the Board of Supervisors will be reviewing this ordinance.


What you need to know:

  • The proposed effective date is currently July 1, 2019
  • Here is the fact sheet summarizing the ordinance
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