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New York will now fine restaurants for including a common takeout add-on in their to-go meals: 'Years in the making'

The rule will encourage businesses and consumers to be more conscious.

New York City's new "Skip the Stuff"

Photo Credit: iStock

In an effort to reduce plastic use, New York will start fining restaurants and third-party delivery services that provide disposable utensils, soy sauce packets, and similar items without the customer requesting them.

In late June, New York City announced plans to implement its new "Skip the Stuff" bill, which aims to reduce plastic use by fining restaurants and delivery services handing out unsolicited plastic items like ketchup and cutlery. 

Food vendors and delivery services have a moment to adapt. Actual fines won't start being handed out until July of 2024, and until then, violators will only receive warnings, Bloomberg reports.

With the popularity of takeout and delivery steadily rising, this new rule is arriving at an opportune time. It will encourage businesses and consumers to be more conscious about plastic use habits and hopefully curtail the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

As a restaurant customer, the "Skip the Stuff" bill can mean fewer unwanted takeout items cluttering your drawers and the occasional ketchup packet tearing open and getting all over your food.

The environment stands a lot to gain, too. That little packet of hot sauce or singular plastic spoon might seem harmless, but over half of the plastic utensils wind up being tossed out instead of recycled. Many end up in our waterways, contaminating some sources of water and harming marine wildlife. 

Additionally, the mere production of such items causes pollution. In fact, creating one ton of plastic cutlery results in roughly 1,350 to 3,800 more pounds of harmful carbon pollution than disposable wooden cutlery.

"We're happy this law focuses on education first by initially providing a warning for violations, then doesn't propose the maximum fines allowable, and also places responsibility on the third-party delivery apps to help restaurants comply," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told Bloomberg.

"#SkipTheStuff was just signed into law by @nycmayor. This moment was years in the making & is an important step as New York City kicks the single-use plastic habit. My heart is so full!" Raine Manley (@rainemanley), regional digital campaign director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, tweeted in response to the new rule. 

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