SOMERVILLE, MA — An ordinance banning the use of plastic straws and stirrers in food and retail establishments, passed by the Somerville City Council last May, takes effect Feb. 9. The ordinance is the latest step in the city’s effort to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The city has also banned plastic bags and styrofoam.
Retailers will no longer be allowed to offer plastic, single-use plastic straws or stirrers, unless a specific request is made by the customer. If retailers or restaurants do plan to provide plastic straws or stirrers, upon request only, they must also post a printed sign in any area where other single-use items, such as utensils, are provided.
During the first six months, only warnings will be issued to give businesses a chance to substitute alternative products. A first violation after that will also result in a warning, and subsequent violations will carry a fine.
In place of plastic straws, alternative items include those made from non-plastic materials including:
Alternatively, businesses may consider using lids that customers may drink directly from.
- Health care facilities are exempt.
- This ordinance also does not apply in emergency situations.
- Items in retail stores where plastic straws come as part of the packaging (i.e. juice boxes) are exempt. These items can still be sold.