If you’ve gone out to eat recently, you’ve probably noticed it: paper straws, condiments only upon request, no coffee cup lids, and lots of other subtle changes while you’re dining. Slowly but surely, restaurants have been getting more eco-conscious over the years. State after state is jumping aboard the no-plastic train, reducing or eliminating single-use plastics in restaurants.
States with Single-Use Plastic Bans
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, eight states have laws eliminating single-use plastics, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Some states even charge a fee for tax for the use of plastic bags.
In February of this year, New York Mayor, Eric Adams, signed the Intro 559-A, or the “skip the stuff” bill. The bill aims to limit the use of single-plastic items from restaurants by making them available only through a request from customers, says Waste Dive. Instead of automatically including paper napkins, plastic cutlery, and condiments for takeout or delivery, restaurants will help the environment while also helping their bottom line, says the article. The bill was passed in an effort not only to curb the waste in current landfills but for “future generations to come,” said Adams.
The bans don’t stop in New York. Effective May first of this year, the use of all food-service containers, cups, dishes, and cutlery from restaurants in Los Angeles County must be recyclable or compostable, says Spectrum News. The ordinance also includes using “multi-service” utensils and plates in full-service restaurants. The article says the ban will take effect for food trucks next year for farmer’s markets, catering companies, and temporary food facilities in November of next year.
Plastic Ban in Los Angeles
Los Angeles also has a ban on the sale and distribution of Styrofoam products starting in April of this year, reports Los Angeles Daily News. Styrofoam is not biodegradable or massively recyclable, and the main ingredient of Styrofoam, styrene, has also been classified as a possible human carcinogen, says the article. The ban applies to businesses with over 26 employees in 2023 but will apply to smaller businesses in 2024. This latest act is in response to a world drowning in plastic, said Council President Paul Krekorian, and includes an ordinance of zero waste policy at events and city facilities, says the article.
According to Local News Matters, Cupertino, California, will also follow in Los Angeles’ footsteps, banning single-use plastics and replaced with fiber-based takeout items made of organic material. The article further shares that compostable takeout containers are included in the ban because the city’s organic waste program does not accept them. The ban took place in September of last year.
These types of laws are helping make our planet greener, and restaurants can have a direct hand in it. Whether you’ve gotten used to paper straws, compostable containers, or limited condiments, a more sustainable dining experience is here to stay and will keep growing. Viability and environmental consciousness are the way of the future for restaurants in America and, hopefully, businesses across the globe.