LA sticks a fork in non-recyclable plastic food products

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Restaurants and food establishments in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County will be banned from distributing single-use plastics starting next year.

The Board of Supervisors passed a measure on Tuesday that will require all takeout containers, cups, dishes and catering utensils to be recyclable or compostable.

Gary Gero, LA County’s sustainability manager, said a wide range of local food industry businesses will be affected by the ordinance, which will be rolled out in sentences.

“Everything from full service restaurants to fast food restaurants. This would also include food trucks and community food events. If food is served at a farmers market, for example, the food that will be served at these types of community events will also be affected.

All food facilities operating in a permanent location will have to comply with the new order on May 1, 2023. The new regulations will come into effect for food trucks on November 1, 2023. Farmers markets, catering businesses and temporary food facilities will have to ditch plastics single-use by May 1, 2024.

Under the order, full-service restaurants with sit-down service will also be required to provide customers with reusable utensils and plates.

Critics of the plan argue that banning single-use plastics will create an inconvenience for some restaurants and an additional expense could be passed on to customers. But Gero says he doesn’t buy into the argument that it’s just a drop in the ocean that won’t change anything.

“We need 1,000 different strategies, all of which will help solve the problem, and this is one of them.”

The city of LA has a similar food service law on the books. Additionally, a new state law will require cities and counties to compost all of their organic materials, including food waste.

“If the food service is also compostable, it makes things much easier in a restaurant, everything can go in one bin.”

Restaurants subject to the new law will be able to apply for a waiver that would exempt them for a year if they can demonstrate that the cost of the new materials will have a significant economic impact on the business.

Violators will be subject to a fine of up to $100 per day, to a maximum of $1,000 per year.


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