Chicago restaurants will no longer provide single-use tableware except upon request when the ordinance goes into effect

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CHICAGO (WLS) – Restaurants in Chicago will no longer give single-use tableware to customers unless specifically requested.

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

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

“It started in my own house; if I have too much stuff and just don’t need it, how can I make that change, and we can all do our part? ” she said.

SEE ALSO: The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a massive buildup of single-use plastics, through restaurant takeout and PPE

Single-use items apply to forks, spoons, knives, chopsticks, stirrers, drink caps, cocktail stirrers, toothpicks, napkins, wet wipes, cup sleeves and condiment packets. The ordinance includes restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs.

Among the exemptions are drive-thru, hot drink sleeves and food purchased at O’Hare and Midway airports.

“We can encourage good behavior, reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste, save our restaurateurs money,” Ald said. Nugent said. “It’s a win for me, and for our community and the city.”

“On an annual basis, this will likely save thousands of dollars,” said Mark Giannini, chef and owner of Pasta D’Arte Trattoria Italiana.

Giannini said his business has gone from mostly in-person dining to about half fulfillment and delivery due to the pandemic. He said that with the cost of everything rising, for his bottom line and for the environmental concerns of future generations, he is happy to comply with this new law.

“We ask for it because it’s an expense and if we don’t have to give it to them, it’s one less thing to put in the bag,” he said.

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

Some critics of the order say the measure is watered down and lacks enforcement, as compliance is voluntary without a fine.

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