4 News Now Q&A: What should you know about Washington’s new plastics law?

Your Questions Answered

Q: What should you know about Washington’s new plastics law? 

One of Washington’s New Year’s resolutions for 2022 is to reduce the state’s reliance on single-use plastics. That’s why, starting January 1, you will need to ask if you want plastic cutlery with your takeout order. Restaurants in Washington can no longer hand them over without customer request.

Here’s what you should know about the new restrictions: 

Is this a ban on plastic utensils? 

The Washington State Department of Ecology says no.

Unlike the plastic bag ban, which is structured to eliminate thin bags from the ecosystem, this new law does not prohibit plastic straws and ketchup packets.

Instead, it targets behavioral changes.

U.S. consumers toss 1 trillion single-use items in the trash every year. The Department of Ecology says it hopes the law puts people in a frame of mind of thinking about the things we’ve taken for granted.

What kind of utensils are restricted?

It is important to know the law is about more than just a plastic fork.

In addition to restricting plastic cutlery, it also limits straws and chopsticks. Restricted single-use items also include things like picks for cocktail garnishes and those little plastic stir sticks used for hot coffee.

Condiment packets and single serve cups of sauce or dressing are also roped in here.

But again, you can still get a lid, straw or plastic fork. It just won’t happen automatically.

Are more waste reduction measures on the way?

The Department of Ecology says yes.

In fact, this is just the first step in a larger plan.

The second step start in June 2023 with the ban of packing peanuts or similar packaging plastics.

By 2024, foodservice items like plates, cups and trays will also be banned in Washington.

What are you curious about? Submit your questions here