California lawmakers consider $1,000 fine, jail for food service workers offering unsolicited plastic straws

A measure being considered by lawmakers in the Sharia-compliant ultra-liberal state of California would fine food service workers between $25 and $1,000 if they offer customers unsolicited plastic straws.  The measure, known as Assembly Bill 1884 also calls for jail time of up to six months if convicted of handing out straws.

The bill, as introduced by Democrat Ian Calderon, currently reads (Emphasis added):

Existing law, the California Retail Food Code, establishes uniform health and sanitation standards for, and provides for regulation by the State Department of Public Health of, retail food facilities, as defined, and requires local health agencies to enforce these provisions. Existing law requires, except as otherwise provided, a person who violates any provision of the code to be guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both.

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That’s right — the state that now regulates cow flatulence and prosecutes business owners for obeying federal immigration law — is considering a measure to throw waiters and waitresses IN JAIL for handing out a straw without first being asked for one.

Let that sink in for just a moment.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon said in a press release. “AB 1884 is not ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”

He added:

Plastic is a material that lasts forever, yet 33 percent of all plastics are used just once and thrown away. Only 9% of all plastics are recycled, but due to their small size and lack of a resin code, no straws are ever recycled. After their one-time use, non-biodegradable plastic straws often end up in our oceans and waterways where they break down into smaller, micro-size pieces that are discarded into our environment. They are oftentimes mistaken as food by marine life.

An estimated 500 million straws are used in the United States every day. This number is enough to fill over 127 school buses each day and is calculated to be about 1.6 straws per person in the U.S. In a summary of all trash collected as part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day between 1989 and 2014, straws and stirrers rank as the 6th most common item collected. AB 1884 is a step toward lowering these alarming figures and is a simple way for consumers to change their plastic use behavior.

According to Reason, “the 500 million figure is often attributed to the National Park Service; it in turn got it from the recycling company Eco-Cycle.”

According to Christian Britschgi, that number came from someone who produced it when he was only nine years old:

Eco-Cycle is unable to provide any data to back up this number, telling Reason that it was relying on the research of one Milo Cress. Cress—whose Be Straw Free Campaign is hosted on Eco-Cycle’s website—tells Reason that he arrived at the 500 million straws a day figure from phone surveys he conducted of straw manufacturers in 2011, when he was just 9 years old.

And, Britschgi said, we really don’t know if that number is accurate, nor do we really know exactly how many straws actually end up in waterways.  The California Coastal Commission once said it collected 835,425 straws and stirrers since 1988.  That, Britschgi said, accounts for about 4.1 percent of the total debris collected.

The Los Angeles Times has, of course, jumped on the anti-straw bandwagon, stating in an editorial that “repetitive sucking may cause or exacerbate wrinkles on the lips or around the mouth.”

Britschgi further said that “…Neil DeGrasse Tyson (always up for a little chiding) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier have appeared in videos where an octopus slaps them in the face for using a plastic straw.”

In an update, Reason said it spoke with Voleck Taing, a senior assistant to Calderon, who said they intend to amend the bill to remove the fines.

As of this writing, however, the bill includes jail and/or fines for those who commit the egregious and heinous act of handing out a straw.

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