WRA—Popular Topics

Straw Use Ordinances

Three Wisconsin municipalities now have straw use laws:  Madison, Milwaukee and Wauwatosa.

As a result of WRA’s lobbying efforts, both the Madison and Milwaukee final ordinances include significant modifications that mitigate some of the negative consequences for restaurants that would have resulted from the original proposals.

Susan Quam

For more information, contact:

Susan Quam | Executive Vice President

squam@wirestaurant.org

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Summary of Madison Ordinance

  • The ordinance prohibits restaurants and bars in the City of Madison from providing plastic straws and stir sticks to customers unless they ask for one. 
  • Fines are $25, $50 and $100 for each subsequent offense with a $100 limit. 
  • Materials other than plastic are allowed.
  • Plastic straws are allowed in self service dispensers for customers to serve themselves. 
  • Plastic straws are allowed to be given without being requested at drive-through service.
  • Employees can ask customers if they would like a straw versus waiting for the customer to request one. 
  • The ordinance went into effect on May 13, 2020.

Madison Straw Ordinance

Milwaukee Skyline

Summary of Milwaukee Ordinance

  • The ordinance prohibits food and beverage establishments in the City of Milwaukee from providing plastic straws unless specifically requested by the customer. 
  • Self-service stations cannot include plastic straws. Paper straws can be made available at self service stations. 
  • Drive-through service is not an exception. Only paper straws can be provided as a default without a specific request.
  • At this time the ordinance asks for compliance without offering a penalty. The City of Milwaukee will monitor compliance and review the need to add a penalty provision to the ordinance down the line.
  • There are some exceptions to this law where plastic straws can be distributed without being requested:
  • As part of prepackaged individual serving beverages where a small plastic straw is included in the packaging
  • Straws for viscous beverages such as milkshakes or smoothies 
  • Compostable straws as approved by the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Sustainability Director (list will be available)
  • The ordinance went into effect on April 14, 2020.

Milwaukee Straw Ordinance

Summary of Wauwatosa Ordinance

  • The Wauwatosa ordinance closely mirrors Milwaukee’s straw use ordinance. 
  • No establishment in the City of Wauwatosa serving food or drinks to the public may provide any customer with a single-use, plastic straw, where "single-use" means a product that is designed and intended to be used only once and is generally recognized by the public as an item that is to be discarded after one use.
  • According to the Wauwatosa City Attorney’s office the ordinance goes into effect on July 10th.

Exemptions

  • Prepackaged individual serving beverages where a small plastic straw is included in the packaging.
  • The provision of a plastic beverage straw to a customer upon request of a plastic beverage straw by the customer.
  • The provision of a plastic beverage straw to a customer receiving a viscous beverage, such as a milkshake or smoothie, that requires a large, durable straw, for which a non-plastic straw would not be suitable.
  • The provision of any other approved compostable straw which has been approved by the sustainability committee for such use. The sustainability committee shall maintain a list of acceptable compostable straws, which list shall be made available on the city of Wauwatosa's website and other locations as appropriate.
  • The provision of plastic beverage straws in hospitals, nursing homes, or other healthcare facilities.

Wauwatosa Straw Ordinance