Carmel City Council made a historic decision on Oct. 3, voting unanimously to ban plastic straws and utensils for restaurants and food vendors.
Plastic straws and utensils are a growing environmental concern because they are not recyclable, and end up in a landfill or, worse, as litter that can find its way into the ocean.
Marine plastic pollution has become a worldwide crisis, as the plastic—which is photodegradable, meaning it breaks down from exposure to light—breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time, and can often look like food for a fish.
When fish eat plastic, its toxins are absorbed into the fish's body, which is then absorbed by anything that eats the fish, including humans.
Carmel's ban will be rolled out in phases. According to a city staff report on the new rules:
"Starting Jan. 1, 2018, require that restaurants provide beverage straws and disposable to-go utensils only upon request.
"Starting April 22, 2018, require that restaurants and food vendors that utilize disposable food service ware use biodegradable/compostable, or recyclable products. This requirement would apply to single-use disposable items such as beverage straws, cup lids and utensils."