New Washington Law Targets Single-Use Plastics

A new law in Washington aims to reduce plastic cutlery, among other single-use plastic items provided by restaurants. Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash
A new law in Washington aims to reduce plastic cutlery, among other single-use plastic items provided by restaurants. Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee made sustainable strides at the Seattle Aquarium on May 17 when he signed Senate Bill 5022, aiming to reduce plastic pollution and improve recycling.

Notably, the law stipulates that, starting Jan. 1, 2022, a foodservice business’ customers must request the following single-use items: utensils, straws, packaged condiments and beverage cup lids. Such products may, however, be made available to customers in cylinders, bins, dispensers and containers, again putting the onus on the consumer.

Cup lids may still be automatically provided for hot beverages, beverages offered via delivery/curbside pickup, drive-thrus and at large venues (2,500-seat capacity or more) hosting professional sport or music events.

Utensils may not be bundled in a way that prevents customers from taking only the desired utensil(s).

Businesses found in violation of the law could face fines between $150-$2,000 per day.

“All foodservice businesses are encouraged, but not required, to take actions in addition to the [opt-in serviceware requirements] that support a goal of reducing the use of and waste generated by single-use food service products,” the law adds.

The full text of Senate Bill 5022 can be found here.

Washington is not alone in its green efforts. Portand, Ore., adopted a similar measure in 2018, while New Jersey recently cracked down on plastic straws, single-use plastic and paper bags, disposable food containers and more. California, too, has taken various steps to reduce single-use plastics over the years, with it being the first state to impose a single-use plastic bag ban.

Many chains also are increasingly committing to sustainable packaging goals, with Burger King being one of the latest to announce a pilot program.

 

 

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