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New Washington litter-reduction restrictions to launch in January


Starting in January, restaurants in Washington will be barred by law from automatically including utensils and condiments to accompany food orders.

Shannon Jones, the Western Washington Recycling coordinator for the Department of Ecology, says businesses will now be required to confirm that a customer wants a disposable utensil or condiment packet.

"I think it’s a pretty large number of those utensils that are often thrown away or wasted as people take the food home, and don't need it, or maybe don't even realize it’s in the bag," Jones said. "Just asking for it, is going to make sure people only get the items they need and want."

Medical facilities are exempt from the law’s requirements. Jones says the utensil law is part of a larger set of state legislation approved within the past year to reduce packaging and single-use waste pollution. In 2023 Washington will phase in a ban on Styrofoam containers as well as packing peanuts and other changes to recycling labeling and waste will follow.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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