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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance on April 5 to phase out the distribution of disposable food serviceware that is not compostable or recyclable.
The ordinance is among the country’s most ambitious efforts to reduce the use of plastics that poison marine ecosystems, damage human health and contribute to global warming and environmental pollution, the supervisors said. Plastic waste is the largest contributor to the nearly 30 million tons of waste generated by L.A. County residents each year.
The ordinance, authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, 3rd District, will require that full-service restaurants use reusable food serviceware for dine-in customers. For take-out orders, Los Angeles County restaurants are already prohibited from offering single-use plasticware and containers unless requested by a customer.
The new ordinance will also require that single-use items be compostable or recyclable, and prohibits the sale or rental of polystyrene products such as single use food containers, coolers, packaging and pool toys.
The new rules will go into effect in May 2023, giving food service businesses time to transition to alternative products. Street vendors are exempt from the ordinance, and restaurants that demonstrate extreme financial hardship or the inability to serve food products safely in alternative packaging can apply for waivers from the requirements.
“[This] action is a major step forward in reducing our reliance on plastics and reducing its harm to human and marine health, as well as its unsightly and ubiquitous presence in the environment,” Kuehl said. “Jurisdictions that have adopted similar measures have made the transition smoothly, and L.A. County is committed to assisting restaurants with educational outreach and financial assistance. It’s time we put a fork in our use of plastics and took a bite out of the overwhelming amount of plastic county residents needlessly use.”
In a related motion introduced by Supervisors Janice Hahn, 4th District, and Hilda Solis, 1st District, the county created the framework for businesses and communities to comply with the ordinance. The motion directs county offices to provide education and outreach in multiple languages about the ordinance, and to inform suppliers of which foodware items are compliant and non-compliant. The board also called for a study on potentially providing financial support for small businesses during the transition.
“Our communities are counting on us, now more than ever, to realize the goals of the OurCounty Sustainability Plan,” Solis added. “It is a plan centered around equity and environmental justice and to that end, it is critical that we deliver on its multifaceted approach.”
For information, visit bos.lacounty.gov.
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