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California proposes banning single-use cups at chain restaurants

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(The Center Square) – California proposed banning single-use cups at chain restaurants for dine-in customers, building upon its plastic straw ban, mandated phase-out of virgin plastic use, and proposal to ban plastic retail bags.

Under SB 1167, introduced by State Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, chain restaurants instead would be required to provide dine-in customers with reusable drinking vessels that are “a durable cup, mug, or glass containing hot or cold liquids that is cleaned and reused by the food service facility.”

Chain restaurants are defined as those with 60 or more locations.

By defining reusable drinking vessels as those that are cleaned and reused by the restaurant, the bill appears to overcome the possibility that these businesses would simply provide thicker cups customers could theoretically reuse but would largely be thrown away and generate more plastic waste than before.

After California banned thin, single-use plastic retail bags, retailers started selling thicker bags to consumers for 10 cents. These bags were rarely reused and typically thrown away, leading grocery and retail plastic waste in the state to rise from eight pounds per person in 2004 to 11 pounds per person in 2021. To fix this, state lawmakers have now proposed banning all plastic retail bags and requiring that retail bags be made from 100% recycled paper.

In 2018, the state banned plastic single-use straws at bars and restaurants except when requested by the customer. In 2022, California adopted a new law requiring all packaging to be recyclable or compostable, plastic packaging content to be reduced by 25%, and 65% of all single-use plastic packaging to be made of recycled plastic — all by 2032.