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Van Bramer Introduces Bill to Partially Ban Plastic Food Utensils

Photo: Jimmy Van Bramer (Twitter)

Oct. 18, 2019. By Shane O’Brien

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer introduced a bill yesterday that aims to reduce the amount of plastic food utensils in New York City.

The legislation would prohibit take-out and delivery services from providing plastic utensils unless a customer expressly asks for it.

The bill includes plates, bowls, knives, forks, spoons and napkins.

Food establishments could only provide non-reusable utensils by request.

The bill states that the Department of Consumer Affairs would be in charge of issuing violations.

Van Bramer said that the overuse of plastic cutlery has a negative impact on the environment.

“We must reckon with the harmful effects that everyday plastic utensils have on our environment and do everything we can to prevent irreparable harm to our oceans and our planet,” said Van Bramer. “The status quo of including plastic utensils in all food orders by default is unnecessary and unsustainable.”

Van Bramer believes that by adding a simple opt-in feature to food orders, the city could reduce the amount of plastic utensils and also reduce their impact on the environment.

It is estimated that over 40 billion non-reusable plastic utensils are used annually in the United States which leads to the pollution of waterways and streets. Van Bramer argues that the utensils are easily disposable and so they are often thrown onto the street or into a body of water, which endangers wildlife.

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Stephen R. Hammond

Requesting a non-inclusion of plastic utensils works. BUT HOW ABOUT THE MOUNTAINS OF PLASTICS NOW USED TO PACKAGE FRUIT, VEGETABLES, SALADS, BREADS, ROLLS, CAKES, MILK, SODA, AND, MY FAVORITE – PLASTICS I LOVE TO HATE: WATER BOTTLES”. Anybody got any ideas about these. (PS: Is there anyone else who still remembers use of a flimsy wooden boxes to wrap berries, paper bags to wrap veggies, waxed cardboard milk containers, glass soda bottles – AND – water available at public drinking fountains – AND (Drum Roll!) THE KITCHEN SINK. I used all these things and I’m still alive.


Many of the utensils given are so flimsy are barely usable for one use anyway. Delis and Delivery tend to include way more than necessary. Do I need three sets of utensils for one order of Pad Thai being delivered to my home? I always check off “No utensils needed”, but they are included anyway. I assume this is because the person packing the order is not the same as the person who assembled it.
I’d rather have them keep the plastic. With the savings, perhaps they could then fill my rice container to the top?

Concerned LIC resident

Doesn’t Jimmy Van Walmart have anything better to do that throw plastic utensils at glass houses.


When I order on Seamless I always check the box that says not to include utensils but they put them in anyway.


Great idea but the customer should be ASKED if utensils are needed. I, for one, would probably forget to ask for utensils when placing the order. Imagine on a beautiful day getting to the park with your bag of delicious deli food or wanting to eat in the car before you rush off to work … only to discover you have to go way back to the store for the utensils, or settle for eating coleslaw with your fingers? Hopefully you were given a napkin or two —- oops, you forgot to ask!

Ryan Matzner

I think the business asking customers “do you want utensils and napkins” would be incompliance. The bill is just about stoping automatic inclusion.


Most people in this world only care about conveniences. Good that someone who can do something in legislation, is doing something.


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