Alderman Nugent proposes ban on providing plastic utensils for carryouts unless requested; violators would not face fines
by BRIAN NADIG
Restaurants would provide plastic utensils, napkins and single-packet condiments to carryout and delivery customers only if requested under a single-use foodware ordinance proposed last month by Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th).
The proposed ordinance, which does not include fines for violators, is intended to reduce plastic waste and to help restaurants save money, Nugent said. She added that many restaurants already have a by-request policy for utensils and condiments.
A similar ordinance proposed by Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) in January of 2020 would have established fines for violators, but that proposal was put on hold due to the pandemic and was never approved.
“I really want to help (restaurants), not penalize them,” Nugent said, adding that the ordinance was formulated with the assistance of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “We want to encourage good behavior. … I’m looking to move the needle in the right direction.”
A study indicated that California restaurants that switched to a by-request utensils policy saved between $3,000 and $21,000 a year, according to Nugent’s office.
Nugent’s ordinance would apply to utensils such as forks, spoons, knives and chopsticks, condiment packs such as ketchup and mustard, napkins and wet-wipes, and cocktail sticks, toothpicks and disposable plates.
Items that would be exempt are straws, beverage lids, cup sleeves and utensils which are attached by the manufacturer to food or beverage products. Lids are essential for carryout beverages, and plastic straws are exempt because their use can be essential for some people with disabilities, Nugent said.
Drive-through facilities and restaurants at Chicago airports would be allowed to automatically give customers utensils and napkins under the proposal. Customers at airport restaurants are unlikely to have utensils with them, Nugent said.