Straw debate comes to Capitol –

ST PAUL, Minn. — Sen. John Marty doesn’t need any straw polls to know Minnesotans use more plastic straws than they really need.

As he sees it, restaurants add to the problem by giving customers straws automatically. It’s the default position on straws.

“I go into a restaurant in Roseville, a nice place. I like the food there.You come to the table and they immediately set down a glass of water with a straw in it,” the Roseville Democrat told KARE.

“People use the straw when it’s there. But how many people would ask for them? Most us don’t use straws at home.”

Sen. Marty has introduced legislation that would bar restaurants from offering straws unless diners ask for them. It would be up to customers to ask.

He’s quick to point out his bill would not be a ban on straws.

“People with disabilities, some of them need straws. And we’re not trying to stop anybody from getting the straw that they want, or that they need,” Marty explained.

“For everyone else let’s not make the assumption they want a straw. Let’s change the default.”

He said it’s a small part of the plastic pollution that has come into sharper focus across the globe. Those little tubes, like the plastic bags, take very long to break down in the environment.

There are reusable straws, and some compostable versions. But the restaurant industry by and large has gone with plastic because they’re less expensive and disposable.

“This is a very simple way to reduce what could be hundreds of millions of straws a year in Minnesota, things that end up in our litter, end up on our shoreline, end up other places.”

Many restaurants have already gone straw-less voluntarily. Some of those places keep straws around for those who need or want them.

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