A number of municipalities across the country are considering banning plastic straws. City of Plattsburgh officials plan to gauge whether residents approve of the idea before moving forward with a ban.
At last week’s meeting of the Plattsburgh Common Council, city leaders considered a resolution approving a survey to gauge the community’s stance on “…banning plastic straws, swizzle sticks, and cocktail picks.”
Ward 1 Democrat Rachelle Armstrong presented the resolution. She says her long-term objective is to reduce plastic waste and the survey is a first and manageable step especially as momentum builds in other municipalities to ban the materials. “We need to know the extent of support for this kind of an idea. And from my point of view as someone who is an advocate for doing it if there’s little support it would be mine and other people’s jobs to try to develop some kind of public relations to increase the level of support.”
In July, Seattle banned plastic straws and Starbucks will stop using them by 2020. Councilor Armstrong noted that Seattle spent more than a year assessing and promoting the plastic straw ban. “The amount of public relations that was able to be conducted was I think adequate to bring everybody on board. Then they identified the date for the ban and gave business owners plenty of time to get the approved products for their businesses. So it’ll be there’ll be a lot of planning involved.”
Some of the councilors, including Ward 3 Republican Dale Dowdle, wanted clarification on what the survey would ask. “This is a ban on the sale or a ban on the use?”
Armstrong: “Oh just a ban on the use in food vending.”
Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly: “Food establishments.”
Dowdle: “Okay so to gauge community interest we’re asking all the residents of the community but it would apply to retail.”
Armstrong: “Retail consumption of food products sold you know your restaurants, your cafeterias, your yeah I’m…”
Ward 4 Independent Peter Ensel: “So it wouldn’t affect like people at the beach or people come to the beach using…”
Armstrong: “Oh yeah that’s something to think of.”
Ensel: “…juice boxes and things like that.”
Armstrong: “I hadn’t thought of that!”
Dowdle noted that some of his constituents are already anticipating a ban. “A couple days ago a shopper in front of me had a cart full of plastic straws. A cart full. The clerk said ‘oh art project?’ She goes ‘no you won’t be able to buy these.’”
The council unanimously passed the resolution allowing the survey. Details are still being worked out and it has not yet been posted.