Washington law reducing use of single-use utensils, condiments and straws starts January 1

Plastic utensils
Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington restaurants will no longer automatically include single-use items like utensils, condiments and straws with food orders. 

A new law goes into effect on January 1 restricting the use of these items and prohibiting packaged bundles of single-use items in order to reduce waste and litter. 

Under the new law, customers can still request individual items if needed, confirm their choice when asked or select the item they want from a self-serve station. 

“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,” said Laurie Davies, manager of the Solid Waste program at the Washington Department of Ecology. “This law nudges people to help reduce unnecessary waste.” 

Single-use food serviceware items are a major contaminant in Washington’s recycling system that decreases the value of recycled materials. 

The Dept. of Ecology says that reducing their use will protect state rivers and streams, help the recycling system run more efficiently and contribute to a growing culture of waste reduction and reuse. 

Single-use food serviceware items covered by the new requirements include: 

  • Utensils (knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks) 
  • Cocktail picks, splash sticks and stirrers
  • Straws
  • Condiment packets, sachets or sauce cups

READ: What you need to know about Washington’s plastic bag ban

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