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New Plastic Straw Restrictions

June 14, 2021

On June 12, City Council legislation was enacted to restrict the use of plastics straws at restaurants and bars in New York City. The law takes effect on November 1, 2021. 

You may recall that before the pandemic the City Council was on the verge of passing this plastic straw legislation, which at the time received significant hospitality industry support, but like anything else, it did have some detractors. The stated purpose of the legislation is to reduce plastic straws, which are among the most common litter found on beaches and in oceans and consumed by animals and eventually finding its way into our food supply, which our city’s restaurant industry relies on. 

If you operate a restaurant, bar or club (eating & drinking establishment) in the five boroughs here’s an overview of what this new law means for your business:

    •    The law takes effect on November 1, 2021

                    • A warning will be issued for any first violation that occurs before November 1, 2022.

    •    After the effective date of the law, eating & drinking establishments may not voluntarily provide customers plastic straws but only upon request (more details on that below) 

Eating & drinking establishments have these options:

1) No Straws: Do not automatically provide straws to customers

2) Paper and Biodegradable Straws: Provide paper straws (better-quality paper straws have come to market and we hope the quality will continue to improve.) or other biodegradable (that don’t need to be composted) or reusable straws. Click here for a list of straw options to consider from our friends Imperial Dade.

3) Compostable straws: Compostable straws may be provided upon request for on-premise dining if the eating & drinking establishment has a commercial composting program required under the city’s composting law. Businesses not covered under the composing law may provide compostable straws upon request for on-premise dining if they use labeled bins to ensure such straws are disposed of in such bins and are then composted. Compostable straws may not be provided for takeout or delivery. 

• Plastic Straws – VERY IMPORTANT: All establishments must provide a plastic straw to any customer who actively requests one, with no questions asked. Asking why a plastic straw is being requested could violate the City’s Human Rights Law, a legal protection for disabled customers who need a plastic straw.

          • Eating & drinking establishments with one or more self-serve stations must post an unobstructed sign at each station that states: “Plastic straws available on request.” Signs must be at least two inches by seven inches, in no less than 20 point font. You may create your own sign or download a version from a city website in the future. If the eating & drinking establishment does not have a self-serve station, a sign is not required, but plastic straws must still be provided upon request.

• Single-use plastic stirrers and splash sticks are banned. 

• The city will undertake an outreach and education campaign to businesses before the law takes effect.

 Click here to read the text of the law.