By Devin Fehely

PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — The city of Palo Alto has joined San Francisco in passing a sweeping ban on plastics that will eventually eliminate nearly all non-recyclable plastic from the restaurant and service industry.

“The main reason for the ban was its impact on the ecosystem. All that plastic ends up on our streets. It gets washed into our creeks, the Bay, the ocean,” said Phil Bobel, the Assistant Director of the City’s Department of Public Works.

The first phase of the ban which targets plastic straws, plastic utensils for takeout and plastic grocery store bags for fruit and meat takes effect January 1, 2020.

“It’s good for the environment. It’s good for our future. That’s why we started doing it,” said Janice Faso, the General Manager for The Counter restaurant in Palo Alto. Faso says, however, if there is a common complaint it’s about the environmentally friendly paper straws.

“I haven’t found a lot of big fans but a lot of understanding people,” Faso said explaining that her customers often get frustrated with the paper straws because they get soggy about a short use.

The Counter was one of several dozen businesses that adopted the ban even before the City Council’s vote. And customers applauded their efforts to reduce plastic pollution and to protect the environment.

“I’m definitely on board in the bigger picture,” said customer Eric Verwillow. “I hate seeing pictures of wild animals with plastics wrapped around them or choking them.”

And while some customers says they’re conflicted — that the environmentally friendly alternatives are sometimes inconvenient or inferior — most agree they want to do what they can to help the environment.

“The feel of drinking with a paper straw is different. But it’s better for the environment so that makes me want it,” said Tess Luis who supports the ban.

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