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Colorado lawmakers to consider banning plastic straws

First committee meeting on proposal next week

Colorado lawmakers to consider banning plastic straws

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - We're so accustomed to drinking through plastic straws that it would be hard to imagine life without them, but that could happen if a proposed bill passes in the Colorado Legislature.

Three lawmakers -- two Democrats and a Republican -- have introduced House Bill 19-1143.  It would prohibit restaurants and other establishments from providing straws with drinks unless requested by customers.

There are some exceptions, however: Self-serve straw dispensers and prepackaged drinks containing straws wouldn't be regulated, and drive-thru customers could still receive straws without requesting them.  The bill also would prevent local governments from further regulating plastic straws.

The proposal is supported by most citizens who spoke with NewsChannel 13 about the subject Friday.

"(Plastic straws) are going to go away on their own in all due time," said Michael Agnew.  "Straws are strictly a lazy convenience.  They could disappear, period."

But Monet Martin disagreed.

"We don't need to ban plastic straws," she said.  "They do a good job and I like using them.  I don't like paper straws.  They kind of fall apart."

The Colorado Mountain Brewery in Colorado Springs stopped using plastic straws a month ago and switched to a plant-based straw that is used for compost after it's discarded.

"It's more expensive, but we think it's worth the expense," said Sean Bogardus, the brewery's general manager.  "We've had a good response from our customers."

But there's another perspective to this story.  With a variety of other plastics -- store bags, containers and packaging -- polluting waterways and clogging landfills, how much of a concern are straws?

Very little, according to Clint Cordonnier, a manager at Bestway Recycling in Colorado Springs.

"We take in up to 200 tons of plastics monthly," he said.  "Less than 1 percent of that is straws.  We get so few of them that we don't have to separate them.  Most of them end up in trash that goes to a landfill.  I don't think a ban is going to work."

Experts estimate that Americans use 500 million plastic straws daily, and 8 million tons pollute the environment.

The effort to ban plastic straws is a growing trend that started in 2015 with a viral video of a biologist removing a straw from the nose of a sea turtle.

Seattle recently became the first major city to ban the straws.  Several major companies plan to gradually phase the straws out.

Other options include using metal straws or not using straws at all.

The bill will be discussed on Feb. 25 by the House Energy and Environment committee.

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