The extra but convenient plastic cutlery, chopsticks and sauce packets that restaurants throw in your takeout bag may soon disappear for good.
New York City’s City Council has just passed a bill that would bar eateries and food delivery services from providing this accouterment unless specifically requested, according to Gothamist. Specifically, the “Skip the Stuff” bill would prohibit the addition of eating utensils, napkins, condiment packets, and extra food and beverage containers to customers with their takeout and delivery orders, according to the bill.
Those businesses that keep including these items regularly, would be subject to civil penalties but warnings, instead of a monetary penalty, would be given for any violation occurring before July 1, 2024.
The hope is to cut down on single-use plastic that can’t be recycled and ends up in landfills and take away the financial burden of purchasing these items from small businesses, according to the Council.
Every year, more than 320 million tons of plastic are consumed globally, with 95% of plastic only used once and 14% for recycling, the bill states.
Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, who sponsored the bill, says it’ll be a win-win for NYC.
“’Skip the Stuff’ will put money back into the pockets of our small businesses while also minimizing our city’s carbon footprint and make New York a more sustainable city,” she said in a statement. “If we continue the use of single-use plastics and other additions, we will feel the negative repercussions through our environment and our local businesses. We must work together to keep and maintain a clean city, not just for ourselves, but for future generations.”
If Mayor Eric Adams signs the bill, it would go into effect in six months, Gothamist says, which is likely given the statement a spokesperson provided to the outlet:
“New York City has long been a leader in the fight to reduce the use of single-use products — especially plastics — to fight climate change, reduce carbon emissions, and divert waste from landfills,” spokesperson Kate Smart said. “This is an important step to reduce consumers’ personal waste impact, which is why we support this legislation and look forward to working with the City Council to enact it.”
Advocates at the Reusable NYC Coalition, of course, support the bill, saying it’ll help New Yorkers change their bad habits of tossing out plastic items and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
In a statement, Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said the group also approves of the bill.
“The ‘Skip the Stuff’ bill is a win-win that will help support our neighborhood restaurants in saving money by reducing the number of single-use plastic utensils and condiment packages that often go unused, while also reducing the plastic waste that ends up in our waste system, in our waterways, and on our streets.”