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LA City Councilman Wants to Limit the Use of Plastic Utensils at Local Restaurants

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Council Bob Blumenfield introduced the measure on Tuesday

Chicken tacos with a plastic fork on styrofoam plate
Chicken tacos with a plastic fork on styrofoam plate

On August 7, Los Angeles city councilman Bob Blumenfield proposed legislation to launch a “plastic utensils on request” ordinance in the City of Los Angeles. The councilman introduced the measure to address the impact of plastic on the environment. Blumenfield’s ordinance is part of a recent wave of legislation directed towards plastic and styrofoam from throughout the state, and each motion directly impacts LA restaurants.

Blumenfield’s proposal is in conjunction with a “straws-on-request” ordinance that council members Mitch O’Farrell and Nury Martinez introduced in January. If approved, the law would require restaurants and food service providers to provide an alternative to plastic straws and utensils, unless the customer specifically asks for them.

2018 is quickly becoming the year of plastic and styrofoam bans. In January, Whittier-based state assemblyman Ian Calderon wrote California Assembly Bill 1884, which sought to limit the use of straws, and protect the environment. Malibu’s city council approved a ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and utensils by any restaurant in February. Only two months later, Long Beach banned single-use Styrofoam food and drink containers, while Manhattan Beach focused on eliminating plastic straws and utensils.

Blumenfield believes Los Angeles needs to curtail its use of plastics, citing 8.8 billion metric tons of plastic in the ocean, and noted that 90 percent of plastic is not recycled. Los Angeles is behind cities that instituted full plastic bans like Seattle and San Francisco, but it’s far more common in 2018 to find paper straws and recyclable utensils throughout LA restaurants.

Blumenfield’s request is an early step. If the council approves the motion, the Bureau of Sanitation is required to report back to the council within 60 days, and determine the feasibility of implementing the ordinance.