LOS ANGELES — A new motion spearheaded by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian aims to reduce the amount of plastic cutlery we get with food deliveries and many environmental advocates are supporting it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a boom in food deliveries and concern about the amount of plastic utensils that come along with them is growing. Andrea Leon Grossman, the climate action director at Azul — an organization which focuses on Latinx communities — supports the city council motion to stop plastic utensils from being given out automatically with food deliveries.
“Latinx communities are disproportionately affected by climate change and by oil extraction and by plastic pollution,” said Leon-Grossman.
Leon-Grossman said the current city council plastic reduction motion is a small but important step to help protect communities most vulnerable to the effects of plastic production and pollution. She calls the utensils “zero use plastics,” as most people dining from home have no need for them and immediately throw them out. Much of the plastic then ends up in landfills or our waterways.
“If you follow the whole life cycle of plastics, or what I call the death cycle of plastics, from extraction to refineries to manufacturing, who gets targeted with cheap plastics? It is the Latinx community,” said Leon-Grossman.
Councilmember Paul Koretz introduced the utensil motion along with fellow member Paul Krekorian. Koretz has been a leader in plastic pollution reduction and like most of us ordering food delivery he noticed an alarming trend.
“No matter how many times I tell a restaurant if they do their own delivery, or try to do it online, I always wind up with a bunch of utensils,” said Koretz. “And during COVID, they're worthless because you're dining at home most of the time.”
With some estimates putting plastic utensil waist up by as much as 300% during the pandemic, Koretz explained how his motion is a no-brainer.
“It's really a win-win for everybody, including the restaurants which are struggling and barely hanging on, and yet they're wasting the money on free utensils that nobody needs,” Koretz said.
If passed, the motion would make it so that utensils would be provided only upon request. The motion is now going through an examination process. With climate justice a key concern in the Latinx community, Andrea Leon-Grossman commends the L.A. City Council for considering this “opt-in” model for plastic utensils.
“Even though it's a baby step, it’s an important one to start addressing this injustice,” said Leon-Grossmane.