SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A proposed plastic straw ban in San Francisco is likely going to mean trouble for bubble tea shops.
The popular beverage sold at shops and cafes comes with its signature big straw. Without them, bubble tea or “boba tea” would be difficult to drink.
The plastic straw ban could affect hundreds of boba tea shops in the city. Some owners say they’re not sure what they’re going to do if the large plastic straws, which are crucial to their businesses, are banned.
“You know, we’ll just have to adapt like any other business,” said Emil DeFrancesco, founder of Streap Tea Bar.
DeFrancesco opened his boba tea shop a year and a half ago in San Francisco. Soon, he’ll have to find a replacement for the wide and large boba tea straws, which are causing problems for the environment.
“I’ve looked into multiple manufacturers who actually make eco-friendly straws, but the problem is they don’t make boba straws or straws that are wide enough,” said DeFrancesco.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is voting on an ordinance to ban plastic straws at the end of the month. If the ordinance passes, then businesses that sell takeaway cups and lids made out of compostable plastic also can’t use straws made from the same material.
Owners of bubble tea shops are counting on the straw companies to figure out an alternative.
“They have to,” said DeFrancesco. “They know what’s going on with the news; they’re in the straw industry. They’ve got to adapt. They’re going to lose sales if I can’t legally buy and sell them [straws] with my product, and they’re going to lose out.”
Recently, San Francisco mayor London Breed spoke out about the plastic straw ban. She said the city needs to take steps to protect the environment, but she also said that she understands the concerns of the businesses that will be affected by the ban.
“I support the legislation. I know it will be a challenge, but it is definitely necessary for the environment and for our future,” said Breed.
Supervisors will vote on the issue on July 31, and if it passes, it will go into effect starting in July 2019.
Officials say that even if the vote passes, they’re committed to working with businesses to come up with the right alternatives.