You must ask for plastic utensils and napkins in LA now

Los Angeles restaurants will no longer freely distribute plastic utensils and napkins and will only offer disposables to customers who request them.

Under the new ordinance, which came into effect Monday for restaurants with more than 26 employees, all single-use plastic utensil dispensers will be phased out. Businesses will also stop including plastic utensils and napkins in take-out orders or for on-site meals unless a customer specifically requests them.

The new rules aim to reduce waste and costs for businesses. More than 32,000 letters were sent earlier this year informing restaurants of the new rules. The letters were printed in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and English, according to Tom Waldman, spokesperson for Paul Krekorian, one of the city council members who proposed the ordinance.

City Councilor Paul Koretz, who joined Krekorian in the proposal, said the shift to providing plastic utensils on demand only has saved businesses from $ 3,000 to $ 21,000 per year, according to the figures his office cited when the ordinance was presented to city council in April.

Although the new rules took effect on Monday, their application will not begin until January. Food and beverage companies will be required to follow the new rules from April 22.

The city of Malibu set the plastic ban standard in 2008 by phasing out plastic shopping bags, and then a decade later cracked down on single-use plastics. Davis and San Luis Obispo have similar laws, while the state of California has phased out the use of plastic straws to curb the buildup of plastic waste.

Sheila Morevati of Habits of Waste, a nonprofit that spearheaded the ban on plastic straw and single-use utensils in Malibu, also helped coordinate the Los Angeles ordinance.

“I call it a triple win,” Morevati said when reached by phone on Monday. “This is a win for the planet, a win for customers who don’t have to fill their garbage drawers with all that plastic, and a win for restaurants and their bottom line. “

Habits of Waste was previously the spearhead of the #CutOutCutlery campaign, which allowed several major food delivery apps to add the ability for customers to opt out of receiving single-use cutlery.

Seattle was the first major U.S. city to ban plastic utensils and straws in 2018. Earlier this year, Honolulu banned plastic bags and made single-use plastic utensils available only on request.

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