The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed an ordinance to make disposable utensils and napkins at restaurants available only by request from customers.

The ordinance goes to Mayor Eric Garcetti for approval, but he said he supported the ordinance during his State of the City address on Monday. At that time, he also called for a ban on plastic foam.

If approved, the measure would go into effect for restaurants with more than 26 employees on Nov. 15 and for all food and beverage facilities in one year – on April 22.

The city claimed the aim of the ordinance is to hold down waste as well as to save restaurants money by reducing their use of plastic utensils and disposable napkins. However, eliminating self-serve napkin and utensil dispensers would cause restaurant workers to take on the added duty of giving out those items.  

The California Restaurant Association did not return a phone query.


The ordinance would not only ban self-serve napkin and utensil dispensers but prohibit workers from automatically giving or even offering single-use napkins and utensils. They are to be given only if requested by customers.

Violators would be subject to a written notice at first followed by a $25 fine for each violation but not exceeding $300 in a calendar year.