Coral Gables to phase out single-use straws

Earlier this year, Coral Gables announced the prohibition of single-use plastic straws and stirrers in city facilities, parks and events on city property.

Matt Anderson, the senior sustainability analyst for the city, said they wanted to lead by example and encourage residents and the business community.

The city passed the ordinance on Jan. 8 with the enforcement period starting on July 9. In the meantime, Anderson said the city will be doing a six-month education period.

The city’s plastic bag ban, passed in May 2017, had a year-long education phase to allow businesses to adapt.

“Say [a business] ordered a bunch of plastic bags for the year; a lot of them order a year’s worth of inventory because of better pricing,” said Anderson “We allowed them a year to be able to transfer away…so the economic impact on our businesses aren’t tremendous.”

The city saw other changes within businesses soon after.

Anderson said when they looked at the businesses’ supply chain and their ordering, they noticed how businesses started making more environmentally conscious decisions.

“I expect our residents to react to our plastic straw ordinance the same way they reacted to our plastic bag ordinance – overwhelmingly positive,” said Anderson.

Anderson said it’s important to the city’s residents and businesses to know that they’re doing the right thing for the environment because they’re surrounded by water.

“Anything we can do to protect our marine environment and our freshwater supply goes a long way,” he said.

In addition to the impact of the city’s ban, Anderson said the larger goal is to get other cities and corporations, like Starbucks, to follow suit. The coffee chain announced last July it would phase out the use of single-use straws.

Former Starbucks barista Ginette Binda the fact the company is so large makes it a good one to lead the way. Current barista Paul Presha agreed.

“Starbucks is everywhere. It’s like a Disney World,” said Presha, who works at the Doral location. “If everybody stopped using straws at Starbucks, I think it would make a pretty big difference.”

But, he added, said people like to have the option to choose and by eliminating it some might feel Starbucks is forcing a decision on them.

Binda agreed that taking away single use straws might make some uncomfortable, but feels that’s the reason they won’t be completely eliminated until 2020.