Single-use plastics are now banned in restaurants throughout parts of Los Angeles County.
The ordinance went into effect on May 1 and requires full-service restaurants in unincorporated L.A. County to provide only recyclable or compostable foodware. This applies to containers, cups, dishes, cutlery and more.
The ordinance was passed by The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in April 2022 with aims to reduce waste and littering in communities and waterways, while increasing sustainability efforts.
Main points of the ordinance include:
-Requires full-service restaurants to use multiservice utensils (i.e., reusable foodware) for dine-in customers.
-Prohibits food facilities such as restaurants, cafeterias, food trucks, etc. located in the unincorporated areas from providing single-use foodware accessories (e.g. straws, forks, condiment packets, napkins, etc.) to customers unless the customer requests them.
-Requires online food-ordering businesses to include on their platforms a way for food facilities to offer single-use foodware accessories so customers may select which accessories, if any, they choose to be packaged with their order.
-Prohibits the retail sale of products made from expanded polystyrene (also known as “Styrofoam”), such as coolers, packaging materials, single-use articles such as cups, plates, and similar items, and pool toys, unless the products are encased in a durable material.
Over the next two years, enforcement will be enacted in phases for different vendors.
Eateries in a permanent location will have one year to reach compliance, food trucks will have 18 months, and temporary food providers like farmer’s markets or community event organizers will have two years.
Exemptions include street vendors and “restaurants that demonstrate extreme financial hardship or the inability to serve food products safely in alternative packaging can also apply for waivers from the ordinance requirements.”
The ordinance’s goal is to phase out single-use plastics while working with restaurants to naturally implement the switch.
“After the first year of implementation, the County will evaluate whether additional measures are needed to support businesses to reduce single-use waste,” said county officials.
Potential fines for violations could run $100 per day per violation and up to a maximum of $1,000 per year, officials said.
“Unfortunately, 85% of single-use plastic items in California are not actually recycled, and most recycling facilities in the Los Angeles region do not accept single-use plastic food service ware of any kind because of their size and contamination,” officials explained. “California communities spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on clean-up and waste prevention programs that combat litter and prevent it from entering our environment.”