Chicago City Council Says You Won’t Get Plastic Utensils In This Take-Out Order Unless You Request Them


Chicago took a small step on Tuesday to stop the plastic tsunami caused by the increase in take-out and home-delivered restaurant meals triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

City council approved a watered-down ordinance banning Chicago restaurants from handing out “single-use utensils” unless customers ask.

Everything from plastic silverware, chopsticks, wipes and condiments to salt, pepper and napkins would no longer automatically be included in takeout or delivery orders.

Compliance would be voluntary. Drive-through restaurants and airport concessionaires would be exempt.

The proposed ban also does not cover plastic straws, drink lids, sleeves for hot coffee and tea and “single-use utensils prepackaged or attached to food or drink products by the manufacturer”, in under the order.

The Illinois Restaurant Association reluctantly agreed to swallow the order because restaurants still struggling to recoup losses from the pandemic would not be fined for violating the ban.

The order is much more restrictive than the ban on plastic pollution championed by finance committee chairman Scott Waguespack (32nd), because it does not include penalties and would not ban foam containers used for sandwiches and other takeaways.

Even so, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), owner of Ann Sather restaurants, couldn’t resist the temptation to berate his colleagues for the small step they were taking.

“The biggest problem is that everyone gets their food delivered to start with. What about the emissions? What about the clutter? I mean, it’s so much bigger than that, ”Tunney said.

“We have work to do on the environment. But this is a phased approach. You go after the little things. … This is a minor problem in the right direction. … We are a shame when it comes to the environment. I am not worried about the plastic. I am worried about fossil fuels. I worry that people don’t care about all the amenities to get them to their front door. Why don’t you walk to the grocery store? It’s ridiculous what’s going on here.

Tuesday’s action-packed meeting was the first since the traditional August break. It also included final approval of:

• Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to extend Chicago’s construction set-aside program for six years and relax its eligibility criteria to include more minorities and women.

• Concession agreements that will offer travelers entering and exiting O’Hare Airport a whole new world of fast, contactless, 24-hour shopping choices and redefine airport vending machines.

• A stronger disclosure order that will require banks holding Chicago taxpayer money or vying to become municipal custodians to be clearer than ever about their lending practices.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Lightfoot proposed a new round of changes to the Chicago plumbing code and appointed Luis Gutierrez, of the Latinos Progresando nonprofit, to the board of the Chicago Housing Authority. . He replaces Craig Chico, who has resigned. His term would have expired in 2025.

This story has been edited from an earlier online version to correct Luis Gutierrez’s title.

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