Published June 14, 2019

MELROSE — If some in the city have their way, the plastic straw and stirrer in many public places may soon be things of the past.

A proposed revision to the city ordinances submitted by Ward 3 Alderman Frank Wright calls for a serious reduction in the use of plastic straws and stirrers beginning Dec. 1.

The reason is that they simply are not good for the environment, according to the order Wright sponsors.

Plastic straws and stirrers “often are used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down…(T)he production and use of (them) have significant negative impacts on the environment, including but not limited to contributing to the potential death of fish, fowl, animals and wildlife through ingestion and entanglement…(They) contribute to pollution of the environment through improper disposal; clogging storm drainage systems; and creating a burden to solid waste collection and recycling efforts…(and their manufacture requires) “the use of millions of barrels of non-renewable, polluting fossil fuel….”

As a result, the order continues, “the City of Melrose seeks to reduce the use of plastic straws and plastic beverage stirrers by all retail establishments, including restaurants and coffee shops doing business” here.

The aldermen’s Legal and Legislative Committee now has the order, and will set up a hearing in the near future.

The type of businesses included in this move away from plastic straws and stirrers, according to the order, are any retail store; department store; restaurant, take-out restaurant or any other common victualler serving hot or cold liquid, slurry, frozen, semi-frozen or other forms of beverages to the public for consumption; and bars, taverns and lounges.

Excluded from the proposed ordinance are supermarkets, pharmacies, the hospital, nursing homes, nursing care or assisted living facilities, doctors, nurses, or EMTs who provide straws to patients.

Effective on the first of December, plastic beverage straws “shall not be used or dispensed or sold in conjunction with the serving by Business Establishments, or at any City Event, of hot or cold liquid, slurry, frozen, semi-frozen, or other forms of beverages to the public for consumption, unless requested by a customer or other patron. If requested, the customer shall be advised not to dispose of it if intending to use a plastic straw for more than one beverage, as only one plastic straw shall be provided each customer, unless otherwise requested,” according to Wright’s order.

Also effective Dec. 1, plastic stirrers will not be used at all in the affected businesses or at any city-sponsored event.

However, “Nothing in this ordinance prohibits the sale of Plastic Straws by supermarkets and pharmacies in packages, not in conjunction with the service of hot or cold liquid, slurry, frozen, semi-frozen, or other forms of beverages to the public for consumption,” the order continues.

Also, “Nothing in this ordinance prohibits customers from using their own straws of any material for personal use in any Business Establishment.”

Those named establishments caught dispensing plastic straws or stirrers will face a written warning for the first offense, a $25 fine for a second offense and a $50 fine for a third and subsequent offenses.