- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

With Old Man Winter on the march, preparations to battle snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain are returning, too.

What’s City Hall doing? Preparing to enforce a law that bans plastic and other noncompostable drinking straws and stirrers.

City inspectors began trolling establishments shortly after New Year’s Day, after beverage seekers’ had recovered from hangovers and 2019 resolutions were dancing in their heads.

The enforcers, called environmental inspectors, are funded via the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). They are slated to hit bars and delis, cafes and cafeterias, restaurants and food trucks — and carryouts, grocers and supermarkets.

Also on the list are day care centers, private businesses and houses of worship — even if the beverages are free. And just to make sure no straw is left behind, nonprofits and other organizations could be subjected to enforcement, as well.

Entertainment venues had best keep an eye out, too.

And heroin and cocaine sniffers, beware. Put your stock in spill-proof sippy cups.

The city passed its straw ban four years after banning Styrofoam containers, and the straw patrols began this week at Union Station, whose lower level eating spots are food heaven for Amtrak and Metro riders.

“Of the first six restaurants Environmental Protection Specialist Lillian Power inspected inside of Union Station, all six — Shake Shack, Thunder Grill, Le Pain Quotidien, Pret A Manger, Au Bon Pain and Sbarro — were still using plastic straws,” Fox 5 News reported. “Overall only six of the 33 restaurants that were inspected provided customers with compliant composaible alternatives.”

Explained Ms. Power: “D.C. has cared about single-use plastics and their impact on the environment in our city for a long time. We’re basically continuing that momentum of what can we do to reduce our environmental impact and footprint, and single-use plastic straws are a pollutant in our waterways and we care about that.”

The visits earlier this week were a head’s up to get rid of the plastic and non-compostable straws or else face fines ranging from $100 to $800 beginning in July. Consumers, Fox 5 said, had a take it or leave it attitude.

Starbucks, for its part, has gone so far as to vow to begin using no-straw lids for its cold beverages by 2020. The exception is its frappucinos, which are made for slurping and will come with straws made from paper or other sustainable materials.

As for 7-Eleven and its ubiquitous Slurpees, pop into to one of 24/7 stores come summer and see what options are available. Coke-flavored straws, grape or cherry?

Or are you truly old school and would rather tip or bend your straw to Marvin Chester Stone, who patented the paper drinking straw in 1888, after disliking the taste of sipping his mint julep through a rye grass straw on a hot day in Washington of all places?

D.C. followed Seattle on the plastic-straw ban, and New York and other sites are following the left coast’s lead, too.

So, you know what that means: Create a law, find a loophole for certain demographics, such as poor people or the disabled, and then generate “new” revenue to pay for the program.

No matter how they suck it up, it’s called tax and spend.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]


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