New York City Council Holds Hearing on “Skip the Stuff” Legislation
Proposed bill would reduce plastic waste while saving restaurants money
NEW YORK — Today, the New York City Council Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection held a public hearing on the proposed “Skip The Stuff” bill (Intro 0559), which would prohibit takeout and delivery services from providing plastic utensils, condiments, or napkins unless explicitly requested by the customer. Dozens of residents and advocates turned out to the hearing to make their voices heard in support of the bill. The overall goal of the Skip the Stuff bill is to help ensure that consumers do not rely on single-use plastics for every take-out order.
If passed, Skip the Stuff would greatly reduce the amount of disposable plastic sent to New York’s landfills and incinerators. New York City spends at least $42 million per year on waste management fees for just single-use disposable foodware. In addition, increased use in delivery apps and the number of takeout orders have more than doubled since the onset of COVID-19, exacerbating the amount of waste produced.
Cost savings for New York City’s restaurants is another focal point of the legislation. Restaurants in the U.S. spend $19 billion per year on take-out foodware like utensils, bowls, cups, etc., while an estimated 100 million plastic utensils are used and discarded every day across the nation. The bill also includes protections for restaurants using third-party food delivery providers, warnings for first-time violations, and education requirements to inform businesses and consumers about the new rules. For these reasons, the largest restaurant association in the city, the NYC Hospitality Alliance, supports this bill.
Skip the Stuff has the majority support of the City Council with thirty sponsors, the full support of the Consumer and Worker Protection Committee, and the support of the Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. The next step for the bill is a Consumer and Worker Protection Committee vote before it goes to the full City Council for a vote.
"This bill will put money back into the pockets of our small businesses while also minimizing our City’s carbon footprint and making New York a more sustainable city,” said Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. “We must work together to keep and maintain a clean city, not just for ourselves, but for future generations."
“Billions of pounds of plastic cover 40% of our ocean surfaces and we contribute to that,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “That’s why I’m so proud to be a prime cosponsor of the Skip the Stuff Legislation. Thanks to Chair Velázquez for sponsoring this bill and holding this important hearing. I’m also grateful to the amazing advocates and organizations like Reusable NYC who work on this issue every single day.”
“The Skip-the-Stuff bill will reduce the amount of unwanted plastic waste from take-out orders that is accumulating in kitchen drawers across New York City," said Eric Goldstein, Senior Attorney and New York City Environment Director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "Why give restaurant take-out customers more stuff – plastic utensils, packets of ketchup, soy sauce, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper – they don’t want and don’t need? Along with the environmental benefits of reducing fossil-fuel based throw-away plastics, the bill will also save money for thousands of New York City restaurant operators.”
"This is a great bill, supported by both restaurants and customers. Customers are sick of receiving plastic junk that they don't want with their food orders, and restaurants are losing money providing these items. The Skip the Stuff bill will save taxpayer money and help stem the tide of plastic pollution that is threatening human health," said Matt Gove, Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager at the Surfrider Foundation.
"New York is learning to be a reuse city – and Skip The Stuff is a critical part of that journey to change the culture. We are passionate about this bill because we can see the future benefits for our residents, restaurants, city, and planet," said Raine Manley, Reusable NYC coalition member and the Regional Digital Campaign Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The broad support shows that New Yorkers and City Council are ready to take action on plastic, and to keep NYC on the cutting edge of environmental legislation.”
“This bill will reduce the massive amount of waste that New York City generates and help private waste haulers meet the waste reduction goals of Local Law 199 of 2019, all while sparing consumers from receiving items they do not want in the first place,” said Sonya Chung, Environmental Justice Staff Attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). “Importantly, reducing our City’s single-use plastic waste will help alleviate the pollution burden on the Environmental Justice communities where the waste ends up, as well as the Environmental Justice communities where plastic is produced.”
“Not only is passing 'Skip the Stuff' legislation long-overdue, it also provides tangible steps to reduce the City’s waste, emissions, and unnecessary costs for local businesses. Intro 559 will reduce approximately 36 million pounds of single-use plastics polluting our City’s waterways, landfills, and incinerators, which is disproportionately located in low income and communities of color,” said Alia Soomro, Deputy Director for New York City Policy for the New York League of Conservation Voters.
"Single use packaging is a climate issue,” said Lauren Sweeney, CEO & Co-Founder of DeliverZero. “This bill will bring us closer to reducing our reliance on unnecessary stuff that gets dumped into thousands of takeout and delivery orders each day. We are eager to see it pass and build on this momentum by finding additional ways to incentivize reuse and sustainability.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.