California has become the first state in the nation to pass a law that will ban restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws to help protect the environment.
“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement upon signing the bill Thursday. “Ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year."
The law, which will go into effect Jan. 1, applies only to full-service, dine-in restaurants, not fast-food establishments or other businesses. It sets a fine of $25 per day for restaurants that violate the rule, with the total not to exceed $300 annually.
The initiative is the first of its kind, officials said.
"California is the only state in the nation that has this type of law," Lerna Kayserian Shirinian, communications director for State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, told ABC News.
Roughly 835,425 straws were picked up from the state's shoreline between 1988 and 2014, according to a statement from Calderon's office. Many additional straws have been picked up inland or around California’s lakes and waterways, the statement said.
“By removing the default behavior of providing straws with every drink, consumers have an opportunity to make a deliberate, small change that will minimize the harmful impacts of single use plastic straws in the environment,” Calderon, who introduced the legislation, said in the statement. “It’s a small but significant step forward and will hopefully set the precedent for the rest of the nation to adopt similar policies that will ensure less plastic ends up harming the environment."
By 2022, the U.S. is projected to consume $600 million worth of single-use straws annually, according to market research Freedonia Group.