With broad community support, the City of San Luis Obispo recently passed several ordinances curtailing the use of single-use plastic straws and single-use plastic water bottles and cups, effective March 2018. These actions build upon the prior countywide measures for single-use plastic bags. Collectively, these efforts are part of a new campaign, SLO Down Plastics – Rise Above Single Use! that aims to educate and inspire residents to rise above single-use plastic and to provide alternatives, resources, and educational support for our business community affected by these ordinances.

The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year. As a whole, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles per year and 500 million plastic straws per day. Unfortunately, this single use plastic often ends up in our creeks, on our hiking trails, in our gutters, and ultimately finds its way to our beaches and ocean. We can make a big difference by choosing to reduce and reuse – while safeguarding the places we love.

Beginning March 1, 2018, businesses such as restaurants, bars and cafes will not provide single- use beverage straws to customers except upon specific request. Exceptions are “take-out” orders purchased at an establishment but intended for consumption elsewhere. The City Council passed the ordinance in November 2017 following study sessions and community engagement.

The City is also limiting the sale or distribution of single-use plastic beverage bottles and cups on City property and at special events on City property requiring a permit. The plastic bottle ordinance regulates the sale and distribution of single-use plastic beverage bottles under 21 ounces in size on City property. With the new ordinance, which is not a citywide retail ban, those bottles cannot be purchased by the City and cannot be sold or distributed at events on City property requiring a permit. The ordinance also stipulates that beverages cannot be served in other single-use containers, such as single-use plastic cups, requiring the use of reusable containers instead.

The plastic bottle ordinance also includes a commitment to increase the availability of drinking water in public places, with an emphasis on water bottle filling stations. Already, six water bottle filling stations have been installed, and the City expects ten more to be installed by the end of 2019.

SLO Down Plastics is a coalition of San Luis Obispo businesses, organizations and agencies working together to reduce waste and keep our community beautiful. SLO Down Plastics partners include Downtown SLO, One with Nature, and ECOSLO, among others. This campaign is part of the City of San Luis Obispo’s broader efforts to implement sustainability measures citywide. Together we can keep our beloved city and environment plastic free and work to further our goal of becoming a sustainable city of the future.

For more information visit:

Plastic Bottles & Cups Regulations http://www.slocity.org/government/department-directory/community- development/sustainability/plastic-bottles-cups-regulations

Straws Upon Request Regulations http://www.slocity.org/government/department-directory/community- development/sustainability/straws-upon-request-regulations

SLO Down Plastics Video https://vimeo.com/256866086