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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 15, 2019 11:04 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Reducing the Use of Single-Use Plastic Straws
Soon I will introduce legislation designed to reduce the use of single-use plastic straws in Pennsylvania.

The use of non-biodegradable plastic is a major problem. Currently, there are islands of human-produced garbage, mostly plastic, in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There are approximately five trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans. By 2050, the weight of all the plastic in the sea will be greater than the weight of all the fish.

Plastic straws obviously aren’t the whole problem, but they are part of it. In the United States alone, people throw out 500 million straws PER DAY! That’s about 180 billion straws per year. These straws are not only contributing to the mountain of trash that grows by the hour, but they are responsible for the deaths of millions of seabirds, fish, and marine animals, such as sea turtles.

There are alternatives to plastic straws, such as bio-degradable straws made of paper or even wheat. There are also metal straws, along with the option of consuming a beverage without using a straw at all, which seems a small price to pay to help protect and begin to clean up our oceans and reduce the burden on our landfills.

While the overwhelming majority of single-use plastic straws are used either out of habit or convenience, a small percentage of people need to use straws in order to drink. I have met with numerous representatives of this community to ensure that my bill meets their needs.

Specifically, my bill would prohibit the automatic dispensing of single-use plastic straws by vendors, like restaurants and bars, to customers. It would also prohibit the open display of single-use plastic straws and devices used to dispense them.

My bill would NOT prohibit the use of such straws. Restaurants would continue to be allowed to give out a single-use plastic straw whenever a customer asks for one. The requesting customer would not need to prove or even allege a disability or anything else; the vendor could give a straw to anyone who simply asks.

Furthermore, people could continue to buy plastic straws in bulk at the grocery store and bring them into restaurants to use. A quick search on Amazon reveals that a bag of 500 single-use plastic straws costs under $10. People who need to use straws to drink already keep straws in their car, backpack, or purse for whenever they are needed; that conduct would continue to be completely legal under my bill.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation.

If you have questions about this legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me.