In January 2024, the New York City Council voted and passed the Skip the Stuff bill. This new law mandates that food service establishments can't offer guests complimentary plastic utensils and related items. A customer must ask for single-use plastics such as forks, knives, and spoons alongside other items usually given out as part of a takeout order.

While the bill aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste impacting the environment, Skip the Stuff will also force restaurants to alter their operations. These changes can potentially harm restaurant operations in the long run if they aren't implemented correctly.

To keep your customers happy while respecting your operations, we'll clarify some misconceptions about the Skip the Stuff law and provide tips to reduce plastic waste in your restaurant.

What is New York City's Skip the Stuff bill?

Skip the Stuff Bill is a law recently approved by the New York City Council that mandates a restaurant can no longer offer plastic utensils, condiment packets, napkins, and extra containers to customers for take-out and delivery orders. Customers must specifically request napkins and plastic utensils if they want them.

Plastic forks, spoons, and knives are in a cup and spread out on a table.
The Skip the Stuff law aims to reduce excessive plastic waste in restaurants.

The New York City Council recently approved the bill to help eliminate restaurant plastic waste that may harm the environment by remaining in landfills without any chance of recycling. However, even though Mayor Eric Adams signed the bill in January, New York City is giving businesses until July 2024 to modify their operations.

Do other states also have a Skip the Stuff law?

Besides New York City, other cities and states have similar bans or limitations on single-use plastics. In Los Angeles, for example, plastic utensils are only provided when the customer requests them.

Alongside the ban on plastics and condiments in restaurants, plastic bags are also limited or banned in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

How to reduce single-use plastics in restaurants

It might seem daunting for a restaurant to change its operations after the Skip the Stuff law. However,  there are some easy solutions that any restaurant can implement. Just remember, guests will eventually become more aware of this regulation and adjust to Skip the Stuff after dealing with other restaurants reorganizing their operations.

1. Train restaurant staff to know the law

While it'll take some time to change the old habit of providing plastic utensils, reminding your staff about Skip the Stuff will help ease them into the new law and expectations while dealing with guests.

Some restaurants even post signs to remind staff that a customer must specifically request plastic utensils. This sign can usually go in the back-of-house next to other posters. You can post similar signs near self-service stations to remind guests that plastics are only given upon request.

Used plastic utensils, paper napkins, and food tray sit on a table.
Quick-service restaurants should see how they can minimize waste.

2. Add an option for plastic utensils in online ordering

Unless the customer asks otherwise, most single-use plastics are handed out in food delivery orders. However, your restaurant cannot give out complimentary utensils with the Skip the Stuff law. But there's a simple solution. 

You can add an option to your online ordering platform, allowing guests to specifically request plastic forks or condiment packets. Keep in mind some delivery apps will remind guests that single-use plastics are not automatically provided in their take-out orders.

3. Keep an eye on your restaurant's spending

With your restaurant handing out fewer plastic products, monitoring how your overall spending will change is important. We recommend utilizing your point-of-sale system's instant reporting feature. You might discover some extra cash in your budget. From there, you can use those savings towards operational costs like buying new equipment for your kitchen or even investing in your own online ordering platform—instead of relying on food delivery apps.

Reducing plastics in restaurants isn't just getting incorporated into laws, but it's also good for the environment. Ensure you stay current on your state's legislation, and do what you can to keep the waste and your plastic spending to a minimum.

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