Judy Rae

El Segundo council adopts partial single-use plastic utensils ban

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by Jeff Mitchell

Following the lead of its neighboring cities to the south, El Segundo adopted a ban on the distribution of unrequested plastic straws, stirrers and utensils from food and beverage providers operating in the city.

The ban, adopted at the Dec. 17 city council meeting, stopped short of the full, single-use plastics bans recently adopted by Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach. The bans are an effort to slow the growing amount of plastic pollution ending up on beaches and in the ocean.

Now, to get a plastic straw, stirrer or utensils at an El Segundo eatery a patron must request them. The ban does not prohibit restaurants from using styrofoam packaging for take-out or drive-through food products.

Mayor Drew Boyles acknowledged the ordinance wasn’t comprehensive.

“Great. This is progress, it’s a start,” he said after the vote.

A chorus of speakers urged the council to adopt the ban and to consider taking stronger steps next year.

No one spoke against the ordinance.

El Segundo resident Sarah Brockhaus reminded the council of how pernicious the plastics pollution problem is.

“Plastics continue to pollute at every step in its lifecycle. By 2050, there may be more plastic in the ocean by weight than there are fish,” Brockhaus said.

Resident Tracy Miller-Zarneke praised the council’s action.

“This is only a baby step. Going plastics-free in our city isn’t as difficult as it might seem,” she said, adding that alternative straws and utensils such as those made from metal or bamboo could end up saving food and beverage providers money.

In an email to the city, resident Kimberly Pierce-Lynne said she was staunchly behind the ban.

“I have always disliked being given plastic utensils when I have not requested them. I have drawers of them that are not used and it’s so wasteful. There is definitely no need for plastic straws and stirrers anymore. There are many other biodegradable options to choose from,” Pierce-Lynne wrote.

Enforcement of the ban will start in April of next year, following a 3-month-long, city-led public awareness campaign.

Jeff Mitchell is a South Bay freelance journalist. Contact him at j.edward.mitchell@gmail.com

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