NYC Bans Plastic

As local politicians scramble to change decades of waste and bad habits, businesses are often in a better position to have an impact on the planet, and some are eager to oblige. Whole Foods just announced they’d be ending the use of plastic straws in their juice bars and cafes and packaging rotisserie chickens in bags instead of plastic cartons, the New York Post reports. And grocery megachain Wegmans says they’ll be bagging single-use plastic bags by the end of this year, ahead of a statewide ban. Recently Mayor Bill De Blasio weighed in with NYC’s own Green New Deal; the mayor announced in April that the city has passed an executive order intended to mobilize resources to combat climate change. In addition to addressing the more obvious plastic, the plan includes the phasing-out of processed meat purchased by government-run facilities like hospitals and schools–but not street vendors, restaurants or stores.

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The mayor’s executive order, which has been well-received by local pols, bans the purchase of unnecessary single-use plastics in favor of compostable alternatives by the year’s end. According to Metro, New York City currently purchases 1.1 million pounds of single-use plastic foodware–flatware, cartons and lids, for example–annually. The ban will trim a whopping 95 percent of all single-use plastics, reducing NYC’s carbon emissions by about 500 tons a year.

Under the new law, no new contracts will be signed for single-use plastic foodware items (except to keep a supply on hand for customers who request them, as the American Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that they be made available on request). Businesses and agencies are expected to have a reduction plan ready within 120 days and implement it by the end of the year. As far as the processed meat cutback, the aim is to curtail methane gas-blasting, resource-hogging beef.

Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said in a statement, “Let’s call single-use plastic what it is: pollution. We need to leave these harmful plastics behind, and reducing the city’s use of plastic foodware is a huge step in that direction.”