A local bill tackling waste in New York City is en route to Mayor Eric Adams’ desk for signature.
Local bill (Int 0559), referred to as the “skip the stuff” bill, looks to amend the administrative code of New York City, restricting the default provision of take-out containers and utensils. The bill was introduced by Council Member Marjorie Velázquez last June. On Thursday, the City Council members voted 43 to 7 to approve the bill.
Just recently New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a law banning PFAs, or “forever chemicals,” in clothing by Dec. 31, 2023. The moves showcase the importance of environmental legislation in recent months and highlight the shifting consumer landscape toward sustainability.
Essentially the bill prohibits restaurants, food couriers and delivery platforms from providing eating utensils, extra eating containers, condiment packets and napkins to customers for take-out and delivery orders unless the customer explicitly requests them. Already, some platforms like GrubHub allow customers to opt out of utensils, and if the bill is signed by Adams, then the rest will have to provide the option instead of defaulting to excess cutlery.
If signed into law, the bill would go into effect in six months. Violators of the bill would be subject to civil penalties; however, the bill would require that warnings, instead of a monetary penalty, be given for any violation occurring before July 1, 2024.
“We simply cannot continue to use unnecessary single-use plastic items, like utensils, at our current rate if we have any hope of tackling the plastic pollution crisis,” said Oceana representative Brian Langloss, in a statement. (Biossance, for one, is a corporate partner of the ocean conservation nonprofit). “Council member Marjorie Velázquez’s bill is a key example of action we can take at the local level to reduce plastic pollution and ensure consumers have plastic-free choices. We applaud the New York City Council for taking action and call on Mayor Eric Adams to sign the bill into law without delay.”
A poll conducted last year by Oceana found that 83 percent of voter-eligible New Yorkers are concerned about the amount of plastic items in food delivery and takeout and that 88 percent support local and state policies to reduce single-use plastic.
The National Resources Defense Council’s senior attorney and New York City environment director Eric A. Goldstein also applauded the “big victory,” in a blog post, citing the environmental gains as well as economic wins for restaurant owners.