Each year, billions of straws, utensils, napkins and condiment packets are included in take-out/delivery orders across the US — and then thrown away. You didn’t ask for them and probably don’t need them, and they cost… big. New York City spends $42 million per year on waste management fees for single-use disposable foodware.
Clearly, NYC needs to cut back on the massive amount of single-use plastic waste it produces every day — and that’s where the “Skip the Stuff” Bill comes in. Drafted by the City Council in collaboration with the Reusable NYC Coalition and the Hospitality Alliance, its aim is to make plastic utensils available only by request. And the move is not just good for the environment — a similar law passed in Los Angeles created savings of over $3,000 a year for restaurants that switched to by-request utensils.
In an op-ed for the Daily News, City Councillors Jimmy Van Bramer and Antonio Reynoso, and Eric A Goldstein, New York City environmental director at the National Resources Defense Council, explained the ethos behind the bill.
“In New York, sustainably dealing with plastic foodware is almost impossible. Plastic cutlery is not uniformly constructed and such items are often too small for most recycling machines, which means they’re deemed unrecyclable. That’s why more than 90% of plastics end up in landfills and incinerators, which are often located in communities of color,” they wrote.
“And the impact is felt well beyond our landfills and incinerators. Petroleum-based plastics take decades to degrade and when they do, they break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics that find their way into our waterways, wildlife and eventually, into our food supply.
“Disposable utensils and other throw-away plastics are manufactured from fossil fuels, the primary source of global warming emissions. And with momentum building to phase out the use of petroleum as a motor vehicle fuel, the oil and gas industry is counting on continued growth in throw-away plastics for future profits. In fact, industry projections point to a doubling of plastics production within the next 20 years.
“Like plastic grocery bags and straws before them, we must do what is in our immediate power to discourage the use of single-use plastic utensils. By simply making them a mandatory “opt-in” instead of a passive “opt-out,” we can change our own disposable habits while keeping millions of pounds of waste out of our streets and landfills.”
Seems that kitchen drawer stuffed with plastic utensils, condiments and leftover napkins may soon be a thing of the past…