The United States uses more than 36 billion disposable utensils a year. Laid end to end, they could wrap around the globe 139 times. Each year, billions of single-use foodware accessories – utensils, straws, condiments, napkins, and more – are automatically delivered to customers, even if they don’t need them.
The vast majority of these single-use items cannot be recycled. They add to the plastic pollution crisis, litter our neighborhoods, rivers, and ocean, and clog already overfilled landfills. Cutting down trees and using more fossil fuels in plastic production for items that aren’t even used makes no sense in the middle of a climate crisis. These impacts also present significant environmental justice issues, with low-income communities and communities of color bearing a disproportionate burden of the impacts from climate change, fossil fuel extraction, and incineration associated with single-use waste.
Due to COVID-19, the problem is getting worse. Market research shows that digital orders increased by 127% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the same time last year. COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem. Consumption of single-use plastics has increased by 250% – 300% since the pandemic began, resulting in a 30% increase in waste which is attributed in part to disposable foodware.
COVID-19 has stressed our waste management systems to the brink and left our beloved Los Angeles restaurants in dire need of assistance. Nearly 100 restaurants in the LA region have closed permanently due to the pandemic. Hundreds more are relying primarily on takeout and delivery orders, and struggling to keep their doors open. When restaurants provide foodware accessories only upon request, they save money and prevent waste. It’s a win-win for all Angelenos, our community businesses, and our environment!
Restaurants and food delivery apps should default to no single-use accessories for orders, unless the customer requests them. Passing local legislation ensures that the accessories on request model becomes permanent and normalized behavior in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion in January 2021 to draft and pass foodware accessories upon-request ordinances and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to follow suit. We need your support to get these ordinances passed as soon as possible. Tell the LA City Council and County Board of Supervisors to support legislation to #SkipTheStuff.