Curbing Use of Single-Use Foodware Takes Effect
In a significant step towards environmental sustainability, Westchester County is reminding residents and business owners of its “Upon Request” single-use foodware law, that took effect on September 2. This legislation aims to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics by promoting a more mindful approach to their usage within food service establishments by limiting the use of single-use foodware products to only when specifically requested by the customer.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer was joined by the Westchester County Legislators Vice-Chair Nancy Barr, Legislator Erika Pierce, DoH and DEF as they outline the key tenets of this new law. The Board of Legislators took up this effort and passed legislation spearheaded by Barr and Pierce and signed by Latimer.
Latimer said: “Westchester County is once again taking steps to lessen the waste we put back into the waste stream. From large scale measures to simple changes in our daily behavior, every little bit counts toward our goal of leaving a cleaner planet for future generations.”
The key tenets of the law include:
• Effective September 2, no food service establishment within Westchester County may provide single-use foodware or condiment packets to dine-in or take-away customers unless expressly requested. This pertains to items such as forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks, cup sleeves, beverage lids and condiment packets.
• Upon customer request, single-use foodware items or condiment packets must be provided individually, rather than in packages containing multiple items. This initiative is aimed at curbing unnecessary plastic waste and promoting a more sustainable approach to dining.
• The law applies across various ordering methods, including in-person, online and through food delivery apps. Customers are encouraged to ask for single-use items only when needed, fostering responsible consumption.
• Single-use plastic beverage stirrers and “splash sticks” will no longer be permitted within food service establishments. Retail stores may still offer these items for sale to their customers.
• The legislation upholds existing protocols for utensil storage within food service establishments, maintaining standards of cleanliness and sanitation. Utensils available in self-service containers for consumers must be individually wrapped or placed face-down, with single-item dispensers recommended.
• All DoH requirements for health and safety remain in full effect, ensuring that the well-being of patrons is not compromised.
• DEF and DoH Inspectors will collaboratively work to ensure the proper implementation and adherence to the new regulations, promoting a seamless transition for both establishments and customers.
• Food service establishments are required to prominently display a clearly legible sign informing customers that plastic utensils, condiments, and straws are available only upon request. This sign, provided by the County, will serve to increase awareness and encourage responsible plastic use.
DoH Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said: “The Westchester County Department of Health is proud to support this new law. Protecting the environment and reducing waste is the cornerstone of Environmental Health. We know that this is an important step in helping to maintain a healthy environment for our residents.
DEF Deputy Commissioner Lou Vetrone said: “Billions of single-use plastic items end up in our waste stream every year. Due to the small size and narrow shape of these materials, they are not easily recyclable. Fortunately, County Executive Latimer and the Board of Legislators have taken decisive action to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic items in our waste with the enactment of this legislation. The Department of Environmental Facilities looks forward to working with the Department of Health to educate residents and food service establishments on the new requirements and to ensure compliance.”
As we collectively strive towards a greener and more sustainable future, Westchester County’s “Upon Request” single-use foodware law sets a precedent for responsible consumption and environmental stewardship within the food service industry.