California eateries will only give take-out customers single-use condiment packets and utensils if they ask for them under a bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The measure applies to packages for condiments like ketchup and mustard, as well as utensils like knives, forks and spoons. It expands on an existing state law that allows restaurants to distribute single-use straws only upon request.
The legislation was authored by Democratic Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, whose district covers parts of northeast and East L.A. including Echo Park, Chinatown and Eagle Rock.
“Plastic utensils and condiment packets create unnecessary trash, pollute waterways and harm marine life,” Carrillo wrote in a tweet.
But Republican state Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita panned the bill on Twitter, asking, “Why was making local gov’t the ‘ketchup packet police’ a priority?”
The law does allow restaurant workers in airports and drive-thrus to ask if a customer wants single-use utensils or condiments.
But those selling their food on third-party delivery apps, like DoorDash or Postmates, will have to list the single-use items as menu items customers can request, according to the bill.
It also bars restaurants from bundling items like plastic utensils and condiment packets, so customers can take only the item they want.
Some facilities are exempt from the rules, such as jails, hospitals, nursing homes and school cafeterias.
A restaurant’s first and second violation will result in a notice, while any subsequent offense will be punishable by a fine of $25 for each day the restaurant is in violation, up to $300.
The law orders cities and counties to authorize an agency to enforce the rules by June 1.
It was among nine related bills signed by the governor, who also touted $270 million in the state budget to modernize and encourage recycling.
“California’s hallmark is solving problems through innovation, and we’re harnessing that spirit to reduce the waste filling our landfills and generating harmful pollutants driving the climate crisis,” Newsom said in a statement.
One of the other bills Newsom signed sets the nation’s strictest standards for which items can display the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol, with advocates saying many items that aren’t recyclable use the symbol. But opponents say the bill is so restrictive it could send more items to landfills.
Newsom also approved a bill strengthening rules for what can be used in compost to prevent contamination of the soil. It requires state regulators to approve labeling rules so consumers can tell what can be composted.
The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, said some companies label items as useable for compost even though they contain harmful chemicals that make the compost unusable.
Newsom also signed a second Ting bill that will ban the use of so-called “forever chemicals” in food packaging starting Jan. 1, 2023, and by 2024 will require cookware manufacturers to disclose if hazardous materials are used in their products.
A different law signed by Newsom bars the chemicals in products intended for infants and children, such as cribs and playpens starting in July 1, 2023.