Prince George’s County approves ban on disposable plastic straws

Prince George’s County, Maryland, has become the latest community in the D.C. area to approve a ban on disposable plastic straws.

The new bill bans restaurants and other businesses from handing out single-use plastic straws and stirrers.

“There is a growing trend among local jurisdictions to ban or significantly reduce the use of non-compostable straws and stirrers as a measure toward more sound environmentally sustainable activities,” according to the bill that was approved on Tuesday by the Prince George’s County Council.

The ban will take effect on July 1, 2020, but no fines will be issued before Jan. 1, 2021.

Martha Ainsworth, chair of the Prince George’s County Sierra Club, praised the plan ahead of the council vote.

“Plastic straws and stirrers are not recyclable. Many of them are littered, and in (a) marine environment, they don’t break down for a very long time. Eventually they break into smaller pieces that absorb toxins that are consumed by marine life with fatal consequences,” Ainsworth said.

The ban includes an exception for people with disabilities, stating food service businesses shall keep a limited stock of plastic straws available to accommodate a person’s physical or medical needs and remain compliant with local, state and federal disability laws.

“Hopefully we (will) be able to … help make the world a little better, and still be able to accommodate the needs of the neediest in our community,” Council member Deni Taveras said.

A similar plastic straw ban is already in effect in D.C.

In Maryland, a ban on plastic straws is in effect in Garrett Park and Rockville; it has been approved in Charles County and Takoma Park, but it is not yet in effect.

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