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Atlanta Considers A Ban On Plastic Single-Use Items At The Airport

The law would ban Styrofoam, plastic bags and straws in city-owned buildings. That includes City Hall and the world's busiest airport. 
The law would ban Styrofoam, plastic bags and straws in city-owned buildings. That includes City Hall and the world's busiest airport. 
Credit David Goldman / AP Photo
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Travelers through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport may have to give up straws and other single-use plastic items.

That’s if a proposed Atlanta law takes effect.

There’s still a while to go before the ordinance could potentially become law. The ordinance is expected to be heard in committee meetings this month.

Councilmember Amir Farokhi, who introduced the measure, says the time to act on sustainability was yesterday.

“And this is one small thing we can do as a city,” he says.

The law would ban Styrofoam, plastic bags and straws in city-owned buildings. That includes City Hall and the world’s busiest airport.

Although he says it’s time to act on sustainability, he expects to make revisions.

“I expect we’ll have a conversation around, whether for example, plastic straws are needed for individuals who have very limited mobility and need them to be able to drink,” he says. “So I think we’ll see some good revision to the legislation as we move forward.”

Retailers and restaurants in city-owned buildings, including the airport would shift to paper and reusables. The proposed ban does not regulate single-use plastic items for airlines or on flights.

Plastic bottles are not included in the proposed ban.

Atlanta wouldn’t be the first airport to attempt to ban single-use plastic items in an airport. A ban on plastic water bottles will take effect this month at San Francisco International Airport.

“This is really supporting a goal that our airport set several years ago to achieve zero waste  going into landfill,” said Doug Yakel, a spokesman for SFO.

The ban does not include flavored beverages such as sodas, teas and juices, says Yakel. Passengers can purchase water in glass or aluminum containers. They can also bring a reusable container to the airport hydration stations.

He says the airport also got they buy-in of the business community.

Atlanta’s proposed ordinance this week has the support of 10 other councilmembers.

Farokhi hopes to extend the ban to establishments outside the airport, such as grocery stores and stadiums, but wants to start with the city first.

“I’m intent on making sure that this is a substantive and meaningful step towards greater sustainability for the city,” Farokhi said.