LA Ditches Styrofoam & Single-use Plastic

LA Ditches Styrofoam & Single-use Plastic

Grabbing takeaway food in LA will soon be done sans plastic. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors finalized an ordinance for all disposable food service ware (cups, dishes, silverware) to be either compostable or recyclable within the next two years. Already, LA only has disposable silverware and napkins available by request.

At the state level, California voters will have the opportunity to vote on the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act ballot measure, which would “require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or compostable by 2030, and single-use plastic production to be reduced by 25% by 2030,” the LA Times reports.

CBS: LA County bans single-use plastic at restaurants, April 19, 2022.

Why This Matters

Plastic waste tops the list of what amounts to over 30 million tons of trash generated by LA residents. And consumer goods packaging accounts for about half of all plastic packaging. Statewide, 85% of single-use plastics are not recycled and half of its plastic waste is single-use. So the move would make a huge impact on the state’s overall waste reduction.

“It’s not a secret that plastic waste enters the food system, but given the new research that recently found plastic in the lungs of living people, it seems high time to ditch these products wherever possible,” The Counter writes.

The Story of Stuff Project: The Story of Plastic, April 21, 2021.

TRT World Now: 20 companies responsible for most single-use plastic waste, May 18, 2021.

What’s Next

The passage of LA’s ordinance is expected to be a boost for statewide efforts. There’s broad public support for reducing single-use plastic, but past attempts at making change through the legislature “have repeatedly failed in the face of industry lobbying,” the LA Times writes. Putting the decision in voters’ hands is a way to avoid industry influence.

Plastic pollution isn’t just an issue for human health, marine life, and waste management. It’s also a carbon polluter:

“The new IPCC report underscores that by 2030, plastic pollution and handling of waste will account for 50 million metric tons of carbon production, exceeding the footprint of coal in producing atmospheric carbon,” Jay Ziegler, director of policy and external affairs for the Nature Conservancy in California, told the LA Times. “We’re on a trajectory that is unsustainable.

PBS: How the Plastics Industry Used Recycling to Fend Off Bans, March 31, 2021.

UNEP: Global Plastic Pollution Agreement | A historic moment, March 2, 2022.