Recently, federal lawmakers introduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act 2021(BFFPPA 2021), which proposes sweeping changes in the U.S. in order to curb our reliance on plastics and in the process improve recycling and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Now restaurants are getting involved, too. In an email to The Spoon this week, Just Salad — a fast casual chain that’s also a champion for more sustainability in the restaurant biz — said it has publicly given its support to the legislation and enlisting other restaurants to do the same.
Supported by Beyond Plastics founder Judith Enck, who is also a former EPA Administrator, Just Salad has drafted a sign-on letter for members of the restaurant, food service, and food and beverage industries. The letter urges other restaurants to get involved with supporting the BFFPPA 2021.
The BFFPPA 2021, introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), expands on an earlier version of the bill. It retains provisions such as mandates on minimum recycled content for some products, more extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs in the U.S., and bans on single-use plastics. Additionally, the new version includes provisions that would reduce plastic production at the source and focus more on reusables. Finally, the bill calls for better protection for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities, which are disproportionately impacted by plastic pollution.
Additionally, the BFFPPA 2021 would test more reusable programs, reduce single-use plastics, incentivize good design, lessen pollution and toxins, and strengthen environmental justice.
Restaurants, of course, are a major contributor to our plastic problem, accounting for almost 78 percent of all disposable packaging. Meanwhile, the United States uses more than 36 billion disposable utensils per year, which is enough to wrap the globe 139 times, and globally we use hundreds of billions of plastic-lined single-use cups annually.
Just Salad, of course, is a major trailblazer when it comes to making the restaurant industry free of packaging waste (and any other form of waste). Others, including major QSRs like McDonald’s and Starbucks, have various efforts in place to curb our reliance on disposable packaging. However, at the moment, these efforts are largely siloed between individual restaurants and restaurant-related companies (e.g., DeliverZero).
“Many conscientious restaurants and food industry leaders are trying to reduce single-use waste and offer packaging that is truly recyclable and compostable,” Sandra Noonan, Just Salad Chief Sustainability Officer, told The Spoon. “But our efforts will remain fragmented until we have a national policy that makes disposable utensils available upon request only, encourages reusable bag and container systems, supports the circular economy, and improves waste management infrastructure.”
Those restaurants and food businesses interested in showing their support can sign the letter here.