The city approved the ban on a preliminary basis last week

San Francisco bubble tea shops are worried about the city’s potential ban on plastic straws.

NPR reports bubble tea shops are fearing San Fransisco’s plastic straw ban, which was approved on a preliminary basis last week.

As bubble tea fans will know, the Taiwanese drink requires a wide straw to suck up the tapioca marbles that sit at the bottom of the cup.

“Boba is just, in general, an expression, right?” Says Alvin Yu, co-owner of the city’s Steep Creamery and Tea. “You have not just tapioca pearls, but you also have aloe jelly, you have these herbal jellies that we make ourselves. And it all requires a straw.”

Fortunately for Yu, he ordered paper straws ahead of the ban. However, some were not as lucky as only a few companies manufacture wide paper straws suitable for bubble tea. Huge orders are resulting in delays lasting up to four months.

Furthermore, paper straws are 10 times more expensive than plastic ones and do not come with sharp ends. Yu and his staff have to cut them all themselves.

Over 200 shops in San Fransisco are selling bubble tea, all of which will need to adjust their businesses to accommodate the ban.

The city’s board of supervisors approved the ban preliminarily to help to reduce litter and landfill, as well as preventing plastics from polluting the ocean. A final decision will be made on Tuesday.

San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tan spearheaded the bill and said plastic straws are problematic for the city to deal with.

“When they’re being sorted in the sorting machines, [the straws] just fall through the cracks and so they don’t actually get composted — even if they are, supposedly, made of compostable material,” she says.

Bubble tea fan Julie Abad said it would be “really hard” to enjoy the drink without a straw. “I think I’d have to pour it into a cup and use a spoon or something,” she said.

Kehlani Penland, agreed, “nobody wants to do that when you’re walking and it’s cold outside. You know, you just want to sip it with a straw!”

Nonetheless, some are in support of the change. “Our world is in big danger right now because of plastic, so paper is probably better,” said 10-year old Alice Asoyan.

If the bill passes on Tuesday, businesses will have until July 2019 to permanently dispose of their plastic straws. Mayor London Breed, who has previously been in favour of the ban, will be required to sign the bill.

 

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