CATHEDRAL CITY – After living on life support for about four months, single-use plastic straws have received the death sentence.
The City Council voted 4-1 on Wednesday to implement a ban on single-use plastic straws. Newly elected Councilmember Ernesto Gutierrez cast the dissenting vote. He encouraged the City Council to allow the state ban on plastic straws to go into effect first to see how it works.
Gutierrez, representing District 4, also maintained that the ban doesn’t necessarily work for drive-thru eateries. Customers who rely on straws, such as those with disabilities, could use the drive-thru, get their meal and unwittingly drive off without a much-needed straw, he said.
There is nothing that prevents a drive-thru restaurant from posting a sign that says, “Straws available upon request.”
Adoption of the ordinance brings to an end a process that began on Aug. 8 when then-Mayor Pro Tem Gregory S. Pettis broached the idea of a ban on plastic straws in study session.
The City Council considered the proposed ban on Aug. 29, but tabled it until a first reading of the ordinance on Nov. 14. With the ordinance now adopted, it will likely be considered one of Mayor Pettis’ first victories.
“I feel honored that both the 2o16/2018 and the 2018/2020 Councils voted to pass this,” Pettis told Uken Report. “Cathedral City is the first city in the Valley and possibly in the County to pass this ban. We are committed to do our part to help the environment.”
Newly elected Councilmember Raymond Gregory said he believes it is important for the City Council to push for environmentally friendly initiatives.
Eco-Cycle estimates that 1.5 plastic beverage straws are used per day per person in the United States, which would result in approximately 81,000 plastic beverage straws being used each day within Cathedral City, contributing a huge amount of waste to local landfills, according to the ordinance.
The city is responsible for waste diversion from the landfills under the Integrated Waste Management Act, and reducing the amount of waste in landfills also reduces solid-waste related greenhouse gas emissions, according to the ordinance.
In accordance with the ordinance, anyone, not just persons with disabilities, can request – and receive a plastic straw.
The ordinance, which is slightly more restrictive than the state ban, takes effect in 30 days.
Some California cities that have already banned plastic straws and other items include San Luis Obispo, Malibu, Santa Cruz, and Ojai.