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Council Conducts Second Reading of Foodware Opt-Out Ordinance

Published on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 | 12:00 pm

The Pasadena City Council successfully conducted the second reading of an ordinance that would require food service providers – including restaurants, bars, food trucks and convenience stores – to have customers ask for accessory foodware items, such as spoons, forks, knives, napkins, straws, and other items, before receiving them.

When the ordinance is in effect, Pasadenans will have a choice of opting out of receiving paper napkins, plastic knives, spoons, and forks when they order take-out or delivery food from local restaurants.

The ordinance is consistent with recently adopted regulations by the county, Alhambra and Santa Monica.

“Public Works staff compared the accessory foodware ordinances recently adopted by the cities of Alhambra, Santa Monica and Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles,” according to a staff report.

“All of these adopted ordinances prohibit providing accessory foodware items unless requested by the customer and permit offering the items to drive-thru and delivery customers. The cities of Alhambra and Santa Monica and County of Los Angeles ordinances also permit offering foodware items to dine-in and take-out customers, whereas the City of Los Angeles ordinance prohibits it. The City of Los Angeles also prohibits providing self-service foodware dispensers or stations,” the report states.

The purpose of the ordinance is to regulate dispensing disposable accessory foodware items in order to reduce waste.

Anyone violating the ordinance, once it is in effect, may be punished under the administrative citation procedures set forth in the Pasadena Municipal Code. Fines collected in accordance with the ordinance shall be deposited in the refuse fund to assist the Department of Public Works with the costs of implementing and enforcing ordinance requirements, the report states.

According to the ordinance, third-party delivery platforms will be required to include an option in their app-based ordering process to allow customers to affirmatively request disposable accessory foodware items as a part of their delivery or takeout order.

According to a UCLA study, more than half of the plastic used is thrown away without being considered for recycling or being put to other uses.

The problem increased during the pandemic, as restaurant and grocery deliveries increased and even more plastic ware was discarded.

The city’s ordinance will add a chapter to Title 8 of the Pasadena Municipal Code and will require restaurants and other foodservice providers – including third-party delivery platforms – to provide disposable accessory foodware items only when the customer requests them.

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