Single-use utensils, food accessories and condiment packets will only be provided to those who request them in Walnut Creek, after city officials approved an ordinance Tuesday intended to reduce waste.
The Walnut Creek City Council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance identical to 2021’s Assembly Bill 1276, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in October. Local governments are required to begin enforcing the law by June 1.
The law prohibits restaurants and other entities that sell food from providing single-use utensils and other foodware like cups, straws and stirrers unless a customer asks for them.
Restaurants will also be prohibited from providing condiment packets and sauce containers unless requested by a customer. The law is intended to both reduce costs for restaurants and reduce the amount of waste produced by customers discarding single-use foodware that they don’t need.
Emlyn Struthers, an administrative analyst within the city’s Public Works Department, told the council that the ordinance will also apply to third-party food delivery apps, which will be required to include a method to request utensils.
“So when you get your GrubHub order, it shouldn’t have 10 forks and knives and spoons that you didn’t request,” Struthers said.
Restaurants will receive a warning on their first violation of the ordinance and will subsequently be fine $25 per day, up to $300 annually.
While both the city and county have the authority to enforce the ordinance and levy fines, Struthers said the city plans to take an “education-based approach” and proactively work with local business groups and restaurants.
“We will be working closely with our local business and restaurant groups like our (Chamber of Commerce) and Walnut Creek Downtown to get the word out about these new changes,” she said.