The City Council passed legislation Wednesday that will dramatically limit single-use plastic straws in New York City restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as grocery stores, delis, and food trucks.
The bill mandates that food establishments will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws unless a customer requests one. That compromise was made to accommodate people with disabilities.
If a customer does request a straw, the bill states that food establishments must supply one, no questions asked and free of charge.
The bill completely bans food establishments from using single-use plastic stirrers and splash sticks of any kind.
Spurred by environmental concerns, Upper West Side Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who sponsored the ban, said the bill’s passage is an important step in curbing plastic waste that is polluting oceans and beaches and harming wildlife.
"The coalition that fought so hard for this legislation understands that plastic waste is gravely polluting our oceans and waterways, threatening the health of wildlife and humans alike,” Rosenthal said in a statement. “This includes millions upon millions of straws, and limiting their use is a simple but very important step toward addressing our plastic trash crisis.”
The bill follows in the footsteps of the single-use plastic bag ban, which went into effect March of last year. Enforcement of the ban, however, was delayed for months due to health concerns over reusable bags, litigation and the pandemic.
Andrew Rigie, the executive director NYC Hospitality Alliance and an ally to the business community, welcomed the passage of the bill.
“We commend Councilmember Rosenthal, former Councilmember Espinal, and all the stakeholders involved for their collaboration in crafting legislation that can work for the environment, restaurants and for people with disabilities," Rigie said in a statement.
City Council Minority Leader Steven Mateo, a Republican who represents parts of Staten Island, offered harsh criticism of the bill, though, saying it will be detrimental to the business community.
"At a time when we should be doing all we can to help restaurants and the food service industry in this city succeed, this legislation is another example of government overreach that will add substantial costs and inconvenience to these businesses and their customers,” Mateo told NY1.
Pending Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signing of the bill, it will take effect November 1.