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Seattle breaks new ground with latest restaurant ban

Seattle is moving forward with a long-delayed ban of single-use straws, utensils, stirrers, bar spears, foil food wrappers and portion cups.

The ban, which takes effect next July, is believed to be the most sweeping prohibition of non-recyclable or -compostable restaurant wares in the nation.

The law leaves open an option to add other products to the list in response to petitions.

Polystyrene takeout containers have been banned since 2009. The same law outlawing clamshells and the like also called for mandatory replacement of disposable restaurant ware with compostable or recyclable alternatives. But, acknowledging that few choices were available to the industry, officials delayed enactment of that second provision until June 30, 2017.

The city has delayed the ban again, but set a definite enactment date of July 1, 2018.

The move drew little public criticism or signs of surprise from the city’s restaurant industry. Many have already committed to voluntarily ceasing the use of single-use wares in September, a movement that’s been dubbed Strawless In Seattle. Local news reports say 500 restaurants will participate.

The ban on disposables is intended to keep nondegradable plastic out of oceans, forests and other natural attractions.

Seattle has long been regarded as a weather vane for restaurants elsewhere in the country. The city and its surrounding areas have been among the first in the nation to adopt such now-common measures as a $15 minimum-wage, shift-scheduling and hiring restrictions and a soft-drink tax.  

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