Want a plastic straw? In NJ you’ll have to ask, as of Nov. 4
New Jersey customers feeling attached to single-use plastic straws — amid a growing tide of paper and plant-based alternatives — will have to explicitly ask for the utensil when drinking, starting next week.
The state Department of Environmental Protection and NJ Business Action Center announced Wednesday that food-service businesses may provide single-use plastic straws to a customer only upon request, starting Nov. 4.
The change applies to restaurants, convenience stores and fast-food businesses, each of which must also educate their employees and customers about the restriction, under the effort.
Consumers will still be able to buy packages of straws and beverages pre-packaged with a plastic straw, such as juice boxes, under the green-minded restriction.
The effort to cut down on single-use plastic straws is part of a broader state law that bans the sale or provision of single-use plastic carryout bags, starting next year.
“When we move beyond single-use plastics, we can reduce our reliance on the fossil fuels that create plastic, remove a source of litter from our communities, and protect wild and marine life from the harm of ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic products,” DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said in a written statement.
Single-use plastic straws and drink stirrers are among the most common items found along the Jersey Shore in bi-annual beach sweeps organized by Clean Ocean Action.
In October 2020, more than 10,000 such straws and stirrers were among the trash picked up after washing ashore along the state's coastline.
Straws were the fifth-most common item found along the states' beaches in 2017, with more than 30,000 of them picked up by volunteers, according to the non-profit.
Globally, around 437 million plastic straws are found along the world's collective coastline, as reported by Acumen Research and Consulting in July.
Aside from disposable options, there has been an uptick in the reusable straw market, with options for sale made of food-grade silicone or stainless steel, among other materials.