NYC Council votes to severely restrict plastic straw use in restaurants, bars

Local News

NEW YORK — New York City will continue to restrict use of plastic straws after the city council passed a new measure restricting their use in restaurants, bars and markets.

The legislation, first introduced by Councilmember Rafael Espinal in 2018, bans the provision of single-use plastic stirrers and “splash sticks” of any kind, in addition to the limitation of straws.

Beginning Nov. 1, places like restaurants, cafes, bars, grocery stores, delis and food trucks can no longer provide single-use plastic straws unless they actively request one. In that case, establishments will be required to provide a plastic straw free of charge, no questions asked. To refuse to provide the plastic straw, or to ask why, could constitute a violation of New York City’s human rights law.

“When I originally introduced the bill, plastic waste was a growing problem that was leading our oceans to have more plastic than fish by 2050,” said Espinal in a statement. “That reality has only been intensified by the pandemic and the lax regulations allowed for single use plastic. When we talk about building back our city it must include sensible green policy goals that will ensure we’re doing so consciously.”

After the original bill was introduced, New York City’s disability community worked closely with environmentalists, the restaurant industry, and the City Council to ensure that the revised legislation passed today protects the civil rights of disabled people who need straws to eat and/or drink independently.  

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