Over the last 2 years, a growing list of U.S. cities have worked to pass laws to ban the use of plastic utensils, straws, and Styrofoam containers. On May 1st, Maine became the first state to ban single-use food and drink containers made of polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam). Other states are considering similar legislation. These efforts are an attempt to reduce garbage in landfills and waterways as well as pollution associated with producing and disposing of these items. While well-intentioned, the laws also increase the costs to eateries, many of whom already struggle with low profit margins.
Some recent laws include:
- Seattle, Washington: Ban on single-use plastic straws and utensils in food service.
- Various counties, California: Limits restaurants and food vendors from using various single-use foodware items.
- California (state): Bans sit-down restaurants from automatically serving customers plastic straws.
- Maui and Hawaii counties, Hawaii: Ban on polystyrene food containers. Additional state legislation is pending.
- Portland, Oregon: Plasticware can only be given if the customer asks for it; foam containers banned.
- Suffolk County, New York: Ban on polystyrene containers; straws and stirrers must be biodegradable and given on request only.
Many other states including New York, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont and Connecticut are currently considering various statewide bans.
What does this mean for food establishments? Start researching alternative suppliers now. Even if your area has not yet passed any laws , this is a U.S. and global trend and it’s only a matter of time before you will be faced with a ban.
If you are a franchisee, note that some franchisors are also starting to voluntarily stop using single-use plastics and Styrofoam (e.g., Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, etc.) so you may face increased costs for supplies.
To protect yourself and your business, make sure to stay up-to-date on your state and local laws. If you have questions, contact Lusthaus Law.