One trillion disposable food service items used annually in U.S.
Takeout, delivery, and casual dining typically come with single-use disposable serviceware often made of plastic. These knives, forks, spoons, cocktail picks, chopsticks, stirrers, condiment packets, beverage cup lids, and straws quickly add up. In fact, we use nearly one trillion disposable food service products each year in the United States.
To address the cost of this waste, starting in 2022, customers will have to verbally confirm that they want single-use items, or they must select items from self-service bins instead of having them automatically included with a food order. Single-use food and drink items included in this new law include plastic utensils, straws, condiment packages, and cup lids for cold beverages.
Excessive use of these items comes at great cost
Dependence on single-use items comes with numerous direct and indirect costs:
- Environmental costs from natural resource extraction, climate impacts, and plastic pollution
- Business costs to purchase and dispose of these items
- Taxpayer costs in solid waste management and litter clean-up
- Potential human health costs associated with PFAS, micro-plastics, and other harmful substances in single-use items
- Lost opportunity costs when we don’t create more sustainable ways to meet our needs without using something only once
Businesses can offer customers single-use items before a customer requests them. But they may not automatically include single-use items in an order without verbal confirmation from the customer.
Businesses may provide single-use items in a self-serve bin or container where customers can choose what they need.
The single-use serviceware law does not apply to food service products provided to a patient, resident, or customer in any facility listed in the law, including:
• Health care facilities or providers
• Long-term care facilities
• Senior nutrition programs and nursing homes
• Meals on Wheels
• Services to individuals with developmental disabilities
• State hospitals
Utensils may not be bundled or packaged in such a way that a customer is unable to take only the type of utensil desired without also taking a different type of utensil. Multiple items may not be wrapped together, like a fork, knife, and napkin wrapped in plastic film.
Education and outreach toolkit
Business owners and the public now have access to an education and outreach toolkit we developed to help people better understand the new law's requirements. It's designed for accessibility and includes an informational flyer, graphics, a web banner, and a social media image for you to share. Check back here often because we are adding material regularly. In January 2022, the food serviceware toolkit will be available in 18 languages.