Nov. 2, 2021 By Christian Murray
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who will be out of office at the end of the year due to term limits, is trying to pass a bill before he leaves that aims to reduce the amount of plastic food utensils in New York City.
The legislation, which he introduced for the first time in 2019, would prohibit take-out and delivery services from providing plastic utensils and napkins unless a customer expressly asks for them. The bill pertains to plates, bowls, knives, forks and spoons.
Food establishments, such as restaurants, could only provide non-reusable utensils by request.
The legislation, dubbed the “Skip the Stuff” Bill, was drafted in collaboration with the Reusable NYC Coalition and the Hospitality Alliance, Van Bramer said.
The bill has 25 sponsors and Van Bramer said that he has been assured that Council Speaker Corey Johnson will put the bill on the floor for a vote before the end of the year.
The bill states that the Department of Consumer Affairs would be in charge of educating restaurants, as well as issuing warnings and fines. Violators would be hit with a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second offense committed within a period of 12 months, and $300 for the third within a year.
Van Bramer said that the use of plastic cutlery is causing significant damage to the environment.
“We must … do everything we can to prevent irreparable harm to our oceans and our planet,” Van Bramer said when he first introduced the bill. “The status quo of including plastic utensils in all food orders by default is unnecessary and unsustainable.”
Van Bramer said the bill would also save restaurants money, since they would no longer need to buy plastic utensils in such quantities.
Last month he wrote an editorial in the New York Daily News touting the bill’s cost-saving and environmental benefits.
Let’s pass this now! This is so simple and painless. People can still get a plastic fork if they ask. Right now, most people just toss them in the trash without thinking! What a wasteful thing.