Starting on April 22, 2022 (Earth Day), restaurants in Los Angeles will no longer automatically offer customers single-use plastic utensils and condiment packets with their takeout and delivery orders. Customers who desire such disposable foodware items may still request them, but the wasteful practice of automatically providing unwanted disposable items that go straight to the trash will no longer be permitted. This “Skip the Stuff” ordinance has applied to larger establishments since last November.
(April 27, 2022: Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Koretz celebrate with community environmental advocates following Council’s landmark vote on comprehensive plastic waste reduction.)
Comprehensive Plastics Strategy
Single-use plastics are an environmental catastrophe, and the problem is getting dramatically worse. While many consumers try to mitigate the problem by recycling, the truth is that most discarded plastic cannot practically be recycled and is sent to landfills or washed out to sea; only about five percent of plastic has ever been recycled. Almost nine million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year, a figure that could double by 2025. And because plastic does not decompose like organic matter, it breaks into tiny particles that stay in the environment essentially forever. These microplastics are consumed by fish and birds, and eventually end up in the human food supply.
Earlier this year, acting on a motion by Councilmember Krekorian and his colleagues Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Koretz, along with Council President Nury Martinez, the Council unanimously agreed to devise a comprehensive plan to reduce consumption of single-use plastics, including plastic bottles and styrofoam packaging. On April 27, the Council committed to zero waste policies in the operation of the City, and moving forward with some of the boldest local ordinances in the country to reduce single-use plastic waste.
Recycling is not the answer to this problem – we need to solve the problem at its source by dramatically reducing the use of plastics.
Council Backs Statewide Initiative
In March, acting on a resolution by Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell, the Council voted unanimously to support a statewide ballot initiative compelling California’s recycling authority to take sweeping measures to reduce the use of single-use plastic packaging and foodware. Voters up and down California will have the opportunity to make their voices heard on the issue when the California Plastic Waste Reduction Regulations Initiative appears on the general election ballot this November 8, 2022.
“For decades, global petrochemical companies have defrauded the public, increasing their profits while they are destroying the planet. The only way to make meaningful progress against plastic pollution is to hold the producers of plastic accountable,” said Councilmember Krekorian.
The ballot measure would require the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to adopt and enforce provisions to reduce single-use plastic packaging, promote innovations for packaging and foodware, and require producers to pay for cleanup of plastic pollution and management of waste.