Statewide ban on plastic straws, polystyrene food containers advances

One proposal would ban single-use plastic straws in sit-down restaurants by Jan. 1, 2024. The other bill prohibits polystyrene containers in restaurants by July 1, 2024 – and in schools one year later.

John Craven

Mar 3, 2023, 10:44 PM

Updated 447 days ago

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After years of failed attempts, Connecticut is one step closer to a statewide ban on plastic straws and polystyrene food containers. But this year's proposals have some big loopholes that may leave environmentalists disappointed.
On Friday, the legislature’s Environment Committee advanced a pair of bills. One proposal would ban single-use plastic straws in sit-down restaurants by Jan. 1, 2024. The other bill prohibits polystyrene containers in restaurants by July 1, 2024 – and in schools one year later.
“Restaurants have known that this was coming for a long time,” said state Rep. Mike Demicco (D-Farmington). “That's the way of the world.”
Cities such as Stamford and Norwalk have already banned both items, but Republicans worry about hitting struggling restaurants with another cost.
“We know what our restaurants have gone through over the past three years now. They have struggled through COVID,” said state Rep. Stephen Harding (R-Brookfield). “Now it seems we're forcing them to use a much more expensive alternative on that one mechanism by which they were making any sort of revenue during COVID.”
Newly elected state Rep. Francis Cooley (R-Plainville) added: “I cannot support a bill that I think could possibly put more long-term restaurants out of business in my district. And we've had too many close.”
Environmentalists may be disappointed too. Committee members stripped out any penalties for serving plastic straws, opting to make the bill merely an educational requirement. Plus, fast food restaurants are exempt – as are the plastic cups that paper straws go in.
“We're not trying to make this a 'gotcha' kind of law,” said state Rep. Joe Gresko (D-Stratford) “I would love to ban all plastic straws everywhere, but I think this is a moderate step forward.”
If the ban passes, you could still ask for a plastic straw. Many people with disabilities say paper or metal alternatives don't work for them.


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