New Year, New Laws In Washington – Buddy Can You Spare A Spork?
"The case of the missing fork in my lunch."
I don't know what to think about this one. Maybe you can help straighten me out. Here goes.
New Year's Day Jan. 1, 2022, brings a new approach to environmental protection from all your favorite Yakima (and Washington) restaurants. Gone will be the automatic assumption that all customers need single-use foodservice items like utensils, condiments, and straws with food orders. The driver is to curtail waste. The DOE says nearly one trillion single-use foodservice products are disposed or littered each year in the United States, according to a 2021 Upstream report.
“Automatically including disposable silverware, straws and condiments with every order creates a huge amount of waste, much of which ends up littering our roads and damaging our environment. This law nudges people to help reduce unnecessary waste.” —Laurie Davies, manager of the Solid Waste program at the Washington Department of Ecology."
A new state law restricts the use of these items and prohibits packaged bundles of single-use items ...like I got in my breakfast from McDonald's this morning...in order to reduce waste and litter. The law says customers simply have to ask for the items and they will still be provided. That's not that much of an imposition, so why should it bother me? Because it does a little. I guess I never really stopped to consider the volume of plastic sporks that get chucked every year. Maybe it's because I hate washing dishes?
The Department of Ecology (DOE) says single-use food service ware items covered by the new requirements include:
- Utensils (knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks)
- Cocktail picks, splash sticks, and stirrers
- Condiment packets, sachets, or sauce cups
- Cold cup lids, except those provided at drive-through windows or events with over 2,500 people
Under the new law, to receive a single-use food service ware item, customers must request it, confirm their choice when asked, or select the item they want from a self-serve station. Ad campaigns are coming that will encourage us all to bring our own reusable food service ware items and to explore different sustainable options for reusable travel utensils.
The DOE says most Washingtonians quickly adapted to the state’s plastic bag ban (that one bugged me too!) earlier this year, and now bring reusable bags when they head to the store. (the assumption is we will fall in line here just as quickly)
I guess these simple "makes sense" steps will have a positive impact but they are still slightly irritating to me because of what I would call "the boy who cried wolf" syndrome. (I just made that up)
I/we have been bombarded for so long with a mixture of exaggerated predictions, fear-mongering, lies, and half-truths about climate and the environment that my ability and patience with finding truth and value is compromised - with my frustration factor as high as my trust factor is low. So dishwashing it will be, maybe I use gentle Dawn detergent...in fact, I'm soaking in it right now! Sheesh.
Visit ecology.wa.gov/serviceware for more information.