A Delaware city is changing the way their residents drink their favorite beverage. Monday night, Newark City Council agreed to proceed with a policy for local restaurants to provide guests with straws on a request-only basis.
The Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC), which advises in the development, management and protection of natural resources and environmental issues, estimated that approximately 91,000 plastic straws are used daily throughout Newark, Delaware.
Initially, the CAC asked the city of Newark to ban straws outright, but the council has decided to advance with the alternate recommendation of adopting a city-wide policy requiring restaurants to provide straws only when guests request them.
The meeting provided direction for Newark’s city manager, Tom Coleman, to return and progress with a city-wide strategy for the policy at a later date. Coleman’s update will include procedures to communicate it to the public and businesses, and information on any associated costs.
Members of the CAC also gave the council the option of phasing in the initiative over two years, starting with the request-only policy before moving to a ban. However, the current decision was specifically chosen to ensure the health of disabled residents as plastic straws help them to drink safely.
Once the basics of the plan are in place, the Council will create a mechanism to observe whether the anticipated impact is left on the community, and will reevaluate whether to move towards a ban.
Delaware residents and business owners spoke to NBC10 about the possible ban.
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"I'm just used to this," Obi Maduka-ugwu, of Newark, told NBC10 as he held his cup with a plastic straw in it from Chipotle. "If you're going to take away this one, give me something better. If it's better for the environment to get this out of here, cool. I'll take it. But you gotta have a good replacement."
Tara Cain, a member of Plastic Free Delaware, argued that the straws are not good for the planet.
"I mean in an ideal world, plastic straws in general would just be gone," Cain said.
Cain told NBC10 she uses a refillable bottle. While she believes a plastic straw ban would be great, she also said a straws upon request plan would work as well.
The request plan has been used at Home Grown Cafe on Main Street in Newark, Delaware, for more than a year. Drinks at the Cafe are strawless unless you ask for one. The business has seen the usage of straws decrease under the policy.
Delaware recently approved a bill largely prohibiting retailers in the state from providing single-use carryout plastic bags to customers.