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City Council Moves To Stop Restaurants Automatically Giving Plastic Utensils

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In an effort to reduce plastic waste while alleviating some financial burdens on Los Angeles restaurants, the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday requested an ordinance be drafted to make plastic utensils, napkins and salt packets available by request only.

Florida, Port St Lucie, breakfast egg omelet, bagel
Florida, Port St Lucie, breakfast egg omelet, bagel. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The motion, which passed unanimously, was introduced by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian.

"Today's motion is an easy, common-sense requirement that we hope will help restaurants save money, help the city save money from unnecessary trash cleanups in our neighborhoods and help stop piling unused stuff in our already teeming landfills," Koretz said before Wednesday's vote.

According to Koretz, restaurants in California that have already switched to by-request utensils have saved between $3,000 and $21,000 per year.

"Knowing that fossil fuels go into producing each fork and knife and that trees are used to produce napkins makes me crazy when I'm just throwing them away," he said in a statement after introducing the motion on Jan. 13.

A report from the International Waste Association estimated that single-use food ware has increased about 250% to 300% as people ordered more takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The casual disposal of tons of plastic utensils has severely affected our beautiful coastline," Krekorian said in a statement after introducing the motion. "This action will help us gain a measure of control over what has become an environmental catastrophe."

Activists with the Surfrider Foundation and Heal The Bay praised the motion.

"This motion represents a small but critical step in the city's effort to confront the nexus of plastic pollution, public health and climate justice," Surfrider Foundation Los Angeles Manager Graham Hamilton said.

The motion is similar to the city's straws-on-request law that bans restaurants from automatically giving customers plastic straws.

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