The City Council passed a bill Thursday that prohibits restaurants and food delivery services from providing utensils, condiment packets, extra containers and napkins in takeout or delivery orders, unless requested by the customer.
The bill aims to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that end up in landfills, according to lawmakers.
“While many of us try to recycle or save these items for the future, most of them end up in landfills where they can enter our water system and harm our ecosystem,” Council member Marjorie Velázquez, who sponsored the bill, said at the City Council meeting Thursday. “Reducing this waste will hopefully help our environment at no cost to businesses, consumers or our city.”
The bill passed the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection Thursday morning before coming to a full council vote in the afternoon. It passed the full council by a 43-7 margin.
Businesses that violate the bill are subject to civil penalties ranging from $100 to $300 within the same year.
Any violations occurring before July 1, 2024, however, will receive a warning instead of a monetary penalty.
According to the fiscal impact statement for the bill, lawmakers anticipate no impact on business revenue nor any impact on expenditures. Opponents of the bill, like Council member Kalman Yeger, were skeptical.
“Does anybody really believe that?” Yeger said at the meeting Thursday. “I’m voting no on that because it's just a dumb bill.”
Restaurant industry advocates, however, have come out in support of the policy.
“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.” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.
Across the U.S., 100 million plastic utensils are used daily, and 40 billion plastic utensils are wasted each year, according to data cited in the committee report.