In the United States, 561 billion disposable foodware items are used each year, resulting in 4.9 million tons of waste – including 36 billion disposable utensils, which if laid end to end could wrap around the globe 139 times. Yes, that is in one year.
The situation has worsened this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the use of single-use items and increased reliance on food delivery and takeout.
Along with Jackie Nuñez, the founder of The Last Plastic Straw, and Advocacy Manager at the Plastic Pollution Coalition, COARE created a draft for an Emergency Executive Order for Foodware Accessories Upon Request for the State of California, and a sign-on letter to show our support to encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to issue this order.
On 12 January 2021, we delivered to the Office of the Governor our proposed Emergency Executive Order, endorsed by 37 organizations – including recyclers, restaurateurs, and prominent chefs.
This Emergency Executive Order would require restaurants, caterers, and food delivery systems within the State of California to refrain from including single-use dishware, utensils, napkins, condiments, straws, or other foodware accessories when preparing or packaging food to-go or for delivery.
Please note that our goal with this Executive Order is to seek rapid and decisive (but temporary) relief to the avalanche of single-use items worsened by the pandemic.
This proposed Executive Order would be a temporary measure meant to support, strengthen, and pave the way for future meaningful legislation addressing foodware, utensils, and accessories in a more comprehensive fashion.
If successful, our hope is that a temporary order will not only provide stopgap relief while we await a permanent legislative solution, but it will also provide meaningful metrics in support of the case for such legislation. Moreover, it may also be simpler to pass legislation to codify a practice already in place. Additionally, through the execution of this proposed Executive Order, food delivery services will have already altered their apps and services to comply, and thus, the biggest technical obstacle to foodware utensil opt-in legislation will have been obviated.
This Proposed Action could also serve as a template for other States to seek immediate relief from the rampant increase in consumption of single-use plastic.
We hope you will support this message and request for an Executive Order, and we look forward to your support in helping us pass a more permanent solution by having it become a law in the upcoming legislative session.
Thank you for your support.
Click on the images below to download copies of the Proposed Foodware Accessories Upon Request Emergency Executive Order
Sign-on letter to the Governor. (641Kb PDF)