Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Intro 559-A: “Skip the Stuff”
Overview: New York City Mayor Eric Adams has signed the “Skip the Stuff” bill, prohibiting restaurants and food delivery services from providing plastic utensils and condiment packets for take-out orders unless specifically requested by customers.
Location: New York City
Population: 9 million
Food policy category: Food services, environmental health, climate change
Program goals: To reduce plastic waste in order to protect the environment and reduce climate change.
How it works: Restaurants and third-party food delivery services will no longer provide utensils, condiment packets, napkins, or extra food containers with take-out or delivery orders unless requested by the customer. Third-party delivery services must give customers the option to request these items, but the default option will be to not include them. Food service establishments with self-service stations in-house are still allowed to offer these items.
Any food establishment or delivery service found to be in violation of this law will be subject to civil penalties in the amount of $50 for the first violation, $150 for the second violation committed within a 12-month period, and $250 for the third and each subsequent violation committed within a 12-month period.
Progress to date: New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez introduced the bill in June 2022. The New York City Council voted in favor of the bill on January 19, 2023, and Mayor Adams signed it into law on February 3.
Why it is important: Climate change, resulting largely from greenhouse gas emissions, is negatively impacting global food security, because extreme weather conditions reduce agricultural productivity.
The production and incineration of plastics contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Raine Manley, the Regional Digital Campaign Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), has stated that 20,000 tons of unrecyclable plasticware are thrown away in New York City each year. After they are discarded, plastics often pollute the environment and waterways, harming animals and marine life, or they are incinerated, which releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Despite the dangers to the environment, plastic production continues to grow. The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) claims that by 2050, if trends continue in the direction they are currently going, plastics could be responsible for 56 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions globally per year.
A decrease in the production, distribution, and waste of single-use plastics will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Program/Policy initiated: The law will go into effect in August 2023.
Point of contact:
Office of the Mayor
New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez
Similar practices: Similar laws requiring consumers to request plasticware, rather than having it provided as a default, are in place in localities across the United States, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Honolulu.
Evaluation: An official evaluation has not yet been conducted because the law has not yet gone into effect.
- 6 Reasons to Blame Plastic Pollution for Climate Change (World Bank)
- Grubhub Applauds New York City Council Passage of “Skip the Stuff” Bill to Cut Plastic Waste (Grubhub)
- Plastic Leakage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Increasing (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
- Skip the Stuff Bill (Surfrider)
- We Know Plastic Pollution is Bad – But How Exactly is it Linked to Climate Change? (World Economic Forum)
- Amendment of Municipal Code Chapter 4-8 by Modifying Section 4-8-010 and Adding New Section 4-8-065 Regarding Requirements for Single-Use Foodware (City of Chicago)
- Council Votes on “Skip the Stuff” Bill to Reduce Plastic Waste in Food Orders (New York City Council)
- How Climate Change Affects the Food Crisis (US Embassy and Consulates in Italy)
- Int 0559-2022 (The New York City Council)
- L.A. Will Limit Use of Disposable Napkins and Utensils in Restaurants (Los Angeles Times)
- Mayor Adams Signs two Pieces of Legislation — to Support Students With Disabilities Entering Higher Education, Build More Sustainable Future by Reducing Single-Use Plastic use (NYC Office of the Mayor)
- New York City Votes to “Skip the Stuff” in Take-Out Orders (Natural Resources Defense Council)
- New York Mayor Adams Signs ‘Skip the Stuff’ Bill for Foodware Items (Waste Dive)
- NYC Council Passes ‘Skip the Stuff’ Bill to Curb Plastic Waste from Takeout Food (Gothamist)
- Ordinance 19-30 (City and County of Honolulu)
- Plastic & Climate The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet (The Center for International Environmental Law)
- Plastic Pollution is Growing Relentlessly as Waste Management and Recycling Fall Short, Says OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
- Plastic Waste and Climate Change – What’s the Connection? (World Wildlife Fund – Australia)
- Skip the Stuff (Upstream Solutions)