Ban Includes Exceptions Based on Needs of Customers and Businesses

The Mayor and Council voted June 17 to simplify a ban on plastic drinking straws by including exceptions for certain businesses and customers.

The goal of the ban, which is part of a ban on polystyrene in food plates, trays, containers and packing materials that took effect Jan. 1, is to significantly reduce the number of plastic straws that are used once and thrown away. It would eliminate the practice of food establishments giving customers plastic straws before determining whether they want one.

Exceptions to the ban avoid the need for businesses to determine a customer’s physical need for a straw or the customer having to show proof of such a need. The ban would not apply if:

  • A customer requests a straw. Customers will not be required to show proof of a physical need for the straw.
  • Businesses recycle or compost straws.
  • A food service establishment has demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the chief of the city’s Environmental Management Division, that straws are integral to the nature of the hot or cold beverage being served. A business must show that the beverage is so viscous that it requires a straw to consume. Certain beverages, such as bubble tea, could be eligible for this exception.


For more information, contact Mark Charles, chief of environmental management, at mcharles@rockvillemd.gov or 240-314-8871.