The Malibu City Council’s historic ban on the sale, distribution and use of single-use plastic straws, plastic stirrers and plastic cutlery within the City goes into effect June 1, 2018 amidst national and international press coverage highlighting the City’s progressive leadership on environmental protections.
“Malibu is ahead of the curve on addressing the plastic pollution that threatens to destroy our ecosystem, from our previous bans on plastic bags, plastic sandbags, and polystyrene foam, to our most recent focus on plastic utensils,” Mayor Rick Mullen said. “Malibu’s beautiful natural shores and mountains are an integral part of our way of life in Malibu, and we must protect them. We are proud to serve as a leader by example.”
In a community that places a high priority on protecting its natural surroundings, Malibu’s businesses and customers are on board. Many local restaurants began replacing single-use plastic straws and utensils with paper straws and wood cutlery well in advance of the June 1 deadline.
The ordinance, which the City Council approved on February 26, 2018, is part of the City’s campaign to eliminate the use of all kinds of single-use plastic items in order to reduce plastic pollution. An estimated 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day in the United States — enough to wrap around the earth 2.5 times. In California, the annual “Coastal Cleanup Day” has tracked the amount of trash collected since 1992, and plastic straws and stirrers are the sixth most common item collected. Plastic cutlery is the fifth most common item collected.
The ordinance also requires that even sustainable alternatives such as paper straws and wood cutlery can only be distributed upon request.
The plastic used in single-use straws and cutlery never biodegrades. Nearly all plastic, regardless of whether it has been recycled, still exists. In the environment, the plastic is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. It is estimated that there are over five trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. Tiny plastic fragments in the ocean are eaten by marine wildlife and enter the food chain.
To raise awareness among the business community of the City’s ordinance and the need to eliminate single-use plastic straws, the City provided a box of environmentally safe paper straws to each local food service business and conducted outreach and education to help train their staff on how to implement the change. The paper straws, which carry the City’s “Keep it Clean Malibu” slogan, will demonstrate to both businesses and consumers that single-use plastic straws can be easily replaced. There are many sustainable, reusable straws and cutlery options available in metal, wood, glass, bamboo and other materials.
To maximize the impact of this local initiative, the City of Malibu has joined the Lonely Whale organization in its nationwide campaign “For A Strawless Ocean” to raise awareness about the need to stop plastic pollution and advocate for cities across America to enact legislation to eliminate single-use plastic straws.
The City is also running an awareness campaign on social media, offering a free, reusable smoothie-size steel straw with a cleaner carrying the “Keep It Clean Malibu” slogan to anyone who comes to City Hall, requests a straw, and posts a photo on their social media account with the hashtags #keepitcleanmalibu and #strawlessocean.
To learn more about the City’s efforts to reduce plastic pollution, visit www.MalibuCity.org/PlasticFree.
Submitted by Matt Myerhoff, Malibu Public Information Officer