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Proposed plastic straw regulation bill defeated in Legislature

A bill that requires food service establishments to only give out plastic straws by request went to the House Energy and Environment Committee Monday.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Macro closeup of two plastic cups with ice cubes and water and condensation on table with straws by green salad in restaurant

DENVER, Colorado — The House Energy and  Environment Committee voted to indefinitely postpone a bill that would have no longer allowed the distribution of plastic straws, unless requested.

The vote passed 10-1.

Rep. Susan Lontine (D-House District 1) introduced HB19-1143 at the State House on Jan. 29.  

The Colorado General Assembly's website states that the bill "prohibits a restaurant, food vendor, or other food service establishment from providing a single-use plastic beverage straw to a customer unless the customer requests a straw."

The bill does not apply to self-serve straw dispensers, drive-through delivery orders, orders through third-party delivery services (such as Grub Hub and Uber Eats), orders through desktop or mobile devices or orders that were prepackaged before the food service establishment received them at the premises.

RELATED: Colorado lawmakers consider regulating plastic straws

The debate over plastic straws has been a conversation since 2015 when biologists found one inside a sea turtle’s nose. The video went viral.

Some Colorado restaurants are already following the ‘by request’ model.

“Restaurants leave a big carbon footprint. A lot of industries do,” Big Red F owner Dave Query said.

Big Red F Restaurant Group runs several restaurants in Boulder and Denver. None of them hand out plastic straws unless a customer asks for one.

The Colorado Restaurant Association asked Rep. Lontine to bring the bill forward, with the intent to present a moderately reasoned approach to the straw issue. They recognized problems with the full ban advocates have vouched for and that cities like Seattle and Vancouver have in place.

“A concern with a straw ban is those who might not have the hand dexterity to drink out of a glass without a straw would either have to constantly bring a straw with them or they wouldn’t have access to one in event of a straw ban,” said Nick Hoover, manager of government affairs for the Colorado Restaurant Association.

He also stressed forcing restaurants to switch to eco-friendly paper or bamboo straws wouldn’t be feasible.

“We wanted to make sure restaurants still have the ability to utilize the straws they are currently using,” Hoover said. “There’s just simply not a supply chain for those products [bamboo or paper straws] to be used broadly across the state of Colorado.”

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