NYC Council passes ‘Skip the Stuff’ bill to curb plastic waste from takeout food


Restaurants and food delivery services will be barred from providing plastic knives, forks and condiment packets, unless customers specifically request them, if a bill passed by the New York City Council Thursday goes into effect.

The bill aims to curb single-use plastic waste that can’t be recycled. Approximately 1.1 million pounds of single-use plastic foodware from New York City wind up in landfills and incinerators every year.

If signed by the mayor, the bill would go into effect in six months. Mayor Eric Adams’ office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

“‘Skip the Stuff’ will put money back into the pockets of our small businesses while also minimizing our City’s carbon footprint and make New York a more sustainable city,” said Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, the bill’s sponsor. “If we continue the use of single-use plastics and other additions, we will feel the negative repercussions through our environment and our local businesses.”

After an initial grace period through July of next year, businesses could start to see fines of up to $250 if they’re found to repeatedly provide customers with plastic knives and forks without being specifically asked to do so. Delivery apps would have to add an option for customers to request silverware and condiments but the default would be restaurants not providing them.

New York officials have taken other steps towards curbing plastic waste in recent years, banning single use styrofoam in 2019, implementing a plastic bag ban in 2020, and restricting plastic straws in 2021.

Last fiscal year, about 20% of the city’s trash was diverted from landfills through recycling and composting, far off the city’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030.

Environmentalists welcomed the bill’s passage.

When signed into law by Mayor Adams, this legislation will mean no more unwanted plastic forks, stacks of napkins, and ketchup packets piling up in kitchen drawers of New Yorkers across the city,” said Raine Manley, with the Reusable NYC coalition.

Landfills emit the potent greenhouse gas methane, and are the third-largest source of manmade methane emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


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