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McCaffrey Aims to End Restaurant Plastic Straw Use

rhode-island-state-house
rhode-island-state-house
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The RI State House.

 STATE HOUSE — Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick)’s bill (2019-S 0202) would end use of plastic straws in restaurants.

If passed, the bill would prohibit food establishments from providing a consumer with single-use plastic straws, unless the consumer requests one, according to a release from the Legislative Press and Information Bureau.

“These straws litter our shoreline and we’ve seen particularly disastrous consequences for marine life. Curtailing the use of plastic straws in restaurants will improve our environment and encourage consumers to think twice about their own carbon footprint,” said McCaffrey.

The bill is similar to a California law that went into effect on Jan. 1. It calls for a notice of violation for first and second offenses. Subsequent offenses would be punishable by a fine of $25, not to exceed $300 annually, according to the bureau.

An estimated more than 500 million single-use plastic straws are used and thrown away every day in the U.S. as Americans use them at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day, according to the National Park Service. That’s 175 billion straws a year.

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The legislation, is cosponsored by Senators V. Susan Sosnowski (D – Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown), Joshua Miller (D – Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Dawn Euer (D – Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), and Louis P. DiPalma (D – Dist. 12, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton).

It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture.