Jimmy Van Bramer, a Queens City Councilman introduced a bill on October 17 that would require food establishments-restaurants, cafes- to let customers choose if they want to use non-reusable utensils.

The bill’s goal is to reduce plastic utensils for dining in, takeout or delivery. It would not apply to straws or coffee stirrers.

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The legislation puts the onus on the customers to choose, because they would need to “opt-in” in order to receive plastic utensils. No establishment with a dishwasher or the ability to wash dishes would be allowed to give plastic utensils for customers. The status quo of including plastic utensils in all food orders by default is unnecessary and unsustainable.”

Speaking about the legislation, Van Bramer said, “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.”

Environmental Justice Lawyer with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and senior staff attorney Melissa Iachan echoed the councilman’s desire for increased sustainable practices, “This law will help New Yorkers to change their bad habits of tossing these plastics out and adopt more sustainable practices, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.”

Research from the Natural Resources Defense Council shares that food and beverage packaging is a prime source of plastic pollution in oceans. Americans use 100 million pieces of plastic utensils each day, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

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These plastics do not break down and leak into our environment, harming marine life and creating microplastics.

Read more One Green Planet news about reducing plastic, including plastic bag bans. California recently announced legislation to ban travel size plastic in hotels.

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