City of Seattle receives BAN Award for banning plastic straws

The city of Seattle receives the August 2018 BAN Award for being the first major U.S. city to ban the use of plastic straws, threatening businesses who offer them with a fine of $250.

The Consumer Choice Center’s Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski remarked that Seattle’s efforts are no doubt well-intentioned, but they effectively punish consumers who would otherwise need them and force a change for consumers that ultimately doesn’t have any real alternatives.

“Using the full force of municipal law to ban plastic straws is a well-intentioned move that actually has negative consequences,” said Ossowski.

“To begin, many people with disabilities rely on flexible plastic straws in order to sip their drinks or eat particular meals. Paper or metal straws are not yet efficient enough and indeed are harder to use. What’s more, there aren’t yet any real alternatives that promise to reduce waste or pollution. Paper straws, for instance, use more energy in total, resulting in more trees being cut down and more pollution overall.

“Concern about plastic pollution in our oceans is indeed important for consumers and citizens, but municipal and state governments cannot ban and penalize consumers and restaurant owners on their way to a solution. We must look to innovation and the marketplace to help find the next usable product,” said Ossowski.

“By awarding Seattle with the tongue-in-cheek BAN Award we want to highlight how much the plastic straw bans are an infringement on consumer choice.”

Every month the Consumer Choice Center awards an institution, person, or organization with the Bureau of Nannyism or short BAN Award. The BAN Awards recognize the work of an individual or organization that has made major contributions to advocating limits on consumer choice. This award serves to recognize extraordinary abilities in disregarding consumers and evidence-based public policy. The award was created by the Consumer Choice Center to draw attention to the important role politicians, lobbies, and advocates play in limiting consumers’ choice and ignoring them in the policymaking process.

Selection criteria: The Bureau of Nannyism (BAN) is a group of consumer choice advocates that discuss nominations on a monthly base and award the nominee with the most innovative or most blunt actions against consumer choice with the BAN award.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.