Chicago restaurants to no longer provide single-use foodware unless requested

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago restaurants will no longer give customers single-use foodware unless specifically requested.

That means customers who want plastic utensils, condiments and more will need to ask for them. The ordinance went into effect Tuesday.

The measure was introduced by 39th Alderman Samantha Nugent. It's designed to reduce plastic waste.

"It started in my own house; if I have too much stuff and I just don't need it, how can I make this change, and all of us can do our part?" she said.

SEE ALSO: COVID-19 pandemic causes massive pileup of single-use plastics, through restaurant takeout and PPE

Single use items applies to things like forks, spoons, knives, chopsticks, stirrers, drink stoppers, cocktail sticks, toothpicks, napkins, wet wipes, cup sleeves, and condiment packets. The ordinance includes restaurants, coffee shops, bars and clubs.

Among the exemptions are drive-thrus, sleeves for hot drinks, and food bought at O'Hare and midway airports.

"We can encourage good behavior, reduce our carbon footprint, cut down on waste, save our restauranteurs some money," Ald. Nugent said. "That's a win for me, and for our community and the city."

"On an annual basis, it'll probably save thousands of dollars," said Mark Giannini, chef and owner of Pasta D'Arte Trattoria Italiana.

Giannini said his business went from mostly in-person dining to about half carry out and delivery due to the pandemic. He said with the cost of everything going up, for his bottom line and for environmental concerns for future generations, he's happy to comply with this new law.

"We do ask, because it's an expense and if we don't have to give it to them it's one less thing to pack in the bag,m" he said.

The ordinance does not restrict straws, as they are a way for people with disabilities to drink.

Some critics to the ordinance claim the measure is watered down and lacks enforcement as compliance is voluntary with no fines.
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