Fox Business reported that a new ordinance passed by L.A. officials bans restaurants with 26 employees or more from giving out packets of ketchup and mustard to customers. Customers must specifically request for the condiments before restaurants can issue them. The ordinance approved Nov. 15 will apply to all restaurants in the city by April 2022.
Aside from condiment packets, the ban also extends to plastic utensils, napkins, splash sticks and toothpicks. Erring restaurants will only receive warnings for the first and second violations. For the third and succeeding violations, they will be fined an administrative penalty of $25 per day – with an annual limit of $300.
According to a Nov. 16 press release, L.A. city council members Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz were responsible for the ordinance.
"Larger restaurants in L.A. are now officially partners in the effort to address the environmental catastrophe caused by the disposal of millions of pounds of plastic waste along our beautiful California coastline. Their compliance is critical as we aggressively counter what has been a major contribution to the climate crisis," Krekorian said.
He added that the plastic goods their ordinance seeks to ban "also sustain the fading fossil fuel industry," something he dubbed "a major contributor to climate change."
Koretz, who co-authored the ordinance, said: "If we are to overcome the extreme climate challenges we face, we will have to alter or otherwise transform all our habits relating to fossil fuel products, including plastics. Skipping the stuff to stop the frivolous waste of napkins and plastic ware is another step forward as we work together toward a healthier future that can sustain us all."
He has earlier attested to the purported benefits of restaurants issuing plastic utensils only if customers ask for them. According to Koretz, establishments in the state that switched to by-request utensils have reported yearly savings between $3,000 and $21,000.
The November 2021 ordinance is reminiscent of an earlier bill implemented at the state level. Former California Assembly Majority Floor Leader Ian Calderon introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1884 back in January 2018. The former Democratic lawmaker's proposal sought to block restaurants automatically giving customers single-use plastic straws.
Calderon's bill "prohibits a food facility where food may be consumed on the premises from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless requested." It added: "By creating a new crime and imposing additional enforcement duties on local health agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program."
Under AB 1884, restaurant staff such as waiters who flout the regulations, will be charged with a misdemeanor and penalized. They can either be fined from a minimum of $25 to more than $1,000, face jail time in a county prison for a term not exceeding six months or both. This was later changed to a fine of $25 per day that the restaurant violates the rule, with an annual cap of $300. (Related: California becoming a fast food police state: $1,000 fine for waiters who serve plastic straws with beverages.)
Calderon explained in a press release that AB 1884 is driven by a push to make more people aware of the effects of plastic straws on the environment. "We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways and oceans."
The former lawmaker clarified that his bill "is not a ban on plastic straws," but "a small step toward curbing reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage."
However, the bill was not without criticism. Many alleged that Calderon's proposal would mandate draconian punishments for food servers simply doing their jobs. (Related: The new UTOPIA of the deranged Left: Serve a plastic straw and go to JAIL in California.)
Furthermore, 16-year-old Milo Cress told Reason in January 2018 that criminalizing the use of straws was a "heavy-handed approach." Back in 2011, the then-nine-year-old Cress researched and found that Americans use 500 million plastic straws on a daily basis.
He said: "If people are forced not to use straws, then they won't necessarily see that it's for the environment. They'll just think that it's just another inconvenience imposed on them by government."
This scrutiny led the lawmaker to clarify his proposal on social media.
"I'd like to clarify that AB 1884 is not a ban. Should it become law, it will not make it a crime for servers to provide plastic straws. My intention is simply to raise awareness about the detrimental effect of plastic straws on the environment," Calderon tweeted.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 1884 into law on Sept. 20, 2018.