MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee could start seeing a significant decrease in plastic straw use by April 2020.
The Public Safety and Health Committee recommended Thursday for approval an ordinance that would prohibit Milwaukee food establishments and alcohol beverage establishments from providing single-use, plastic beverage straws to customers.
There are some exceptions; prepackaged individual beverages where a plastic straw is included are exempt.
Customers can ask for a plastic straw and the food or beverage establishment can provide one, if available.
If a customer orders a drink thick enough to require a straw, like a milkshake or smoothie, the establishment can provide one.
Compostable straws are also allowed.
The legislation is meant to cut down on Milwaukee’s plastic straw usage.
“By design. these plastic straws are meant to be used and thrown away after just one use, and far too often they become litter and are easily washed into our sewers and waterways or blown into streets and neighborhoods,” Alderman Cavalier Johnson said. “Literally millions of plastic straws are ending up in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water across our city, county, state and the nation. We need to take action and that’s what this legislation is meant to do.”
Municipalities across the country are taking similar steps. In California, customers need to ask for straws. Seattle and San Francisco banned them outright. Malibu and Miami also prohibit them on many of their beaches.
Many establishments are phasing plastic straws out here locally. Miller Park got rid of plastic straws at the start of the season. Starbucks promised to phase them out by 2020. Culver’s told our Milwaukee affiliate, WISN 12 News, they were working with suppliers to test a number of paper straw options for municipalities that ban the use of plastic straws.
Thainamaite on Brady Street is also starting to switch to paper bags and paper straws.
“Most of our servers give beverages to customers without a straw. We typically only give straws away on request and we are switching over to paper straws fairly soon,” said Rayanne Pelican, a floor manager at Thainamite on Brady Street. “We have switched from plastic and Styrofoam to paper and we’re just making these small changes.”