New Jersey plastic straw 'request only' rule takes effect as part of new ban

The edible alternative to plastic straws

Pasta Straw looks to replace your plastic straws

If you live in New Jersey and like using plastic straws, you might think this news really sucks.

The Garden State on Thursday took a step toward its ban on single-use plastics, as its "request only" rule for plastic straws at restaurants took effect, according to reports. 

Beginning Thursday, restaurants, coffee shops and other food service places in the state were allowed to provide plastic straws to customers only if they specifically asked for them, according to NorthJersey.com. 

Businesses violating the law can face a $1,000 or $5,000 fine after an initial warning.

The new rule is part of a wide-ranging law signed last year by Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who was declared the winner of his reelection bid this week – but whose Republican opponent has not conceded following a close vote.

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The law also bans single-use plastic bags from places like grocery stores along with Styrofoam cups and food containers from restaurants beginning next spring. 

"Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans," Murphy said last year. "With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations."  

“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans.” 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at the War Memorial in Trenton, May 19, 2020. (Associated Press) (Associated Press)

Lawmakers rejected an outright ban on plastic straws because of disability advocates who said some disabled people require a plastic straw to drink through, according to NorthJersey.com.

With the ban, New Jersey follows states like California and New York, which have cut back on plastic use, including straws.

In April, an Oklahoma state senator proposed a bill banning paper straws. 

"You have states, like California, where the leftist loons have banned plastic straws because they saw a video on social media about a sea turtle that was harmed by ingesting a straw," state Sen. Nathan Dahm, a Republican, said, according to KJRH-TV in Tulsa. "So, under the guise of helping the planet, they’ve banned plastic straws, resulting in who-knows-how-many trees now being cut down to make paper straws."

“Under the guise of helping the planet, they’ve banned plastic straws, resulting in who-knows-how-many trees now being cut down to make paper straws.”

Oklahoma state Sen. Nathan Dahm.

Plastic straws aren’t recyclable, don’t biodegrade and can release harmful chemicals into the environment and hurt animals, according to The Washington Post. 

"It's something that's going to take time for both restaurants and customers, but we'll have a healthier planet, healthier oceans and healthier people at the end of it," Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, told NorthJersey.com. 

"Plastic straws are great. I don't see why we got to be sucking on paper pulp. It's awful. No one likes them," Cherry Hill, New Jersey, resident Robert Borzotta told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. 

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Dave Fletcher, who owns Cedar Bean's Coffee Joint in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, told the newspaper he tries be "Switzerland" about rules like the request-only straw ban. 

"You want to accommodate your customers, but you also have to be mindful of the impact plastic has on everything," he said. He currently offers both plastic and paper straws but admits the paper ones aren’t popular. 

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