Letter to Legislators
Reusable New England is looking for organizations and individuals to help pass #SkipTheStuff. We have two easy (<1 minute) ways to get involved:
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Co-sign our public letter and become a public supporter of #SkipTheStuff
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Support: An Act to "Skip The Stuff"
Presented by Rep. Ciccolo of Lexington
Bill No. H766
House Docket, No. 3422
December 8, 2023
Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
Massachusetts State Legislature
24 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02113
RE: House Bill No. H766 - An Act to “Skip the Stuff” to Reduce Restaurant Waste.
Dear Members of the Massachusetts Environment and Natural Resources Committee:
The undersigned organizations respectfully request that you ACT NOW to pass House Bill H766, An Act to “Skip the Stuff” to Reduce Restaurant Waste. This commonsense legislation reduces unnecessary waste created when take-out and delivery meals come with utensils, straws, condiments, napkins, and other accessories that consumers don’t need, and much of the time don’t want. Skip the Stuff simply requires that these items only be provided to customers who request them.
Each year, billions of single-use plastics and paper accessories – utensils, straws, napkins, and condiments – are delivered to customers who order takeout and don’t want or need them. Most meals are delivered to homes and offices already stocked with these items. The United States uses more than 36 billion disposable utensils a year. When laid end to end, these utensils could wrap around the globe 139 times.
Most of these single-use items cannot be recycled. They add to our significant plastic pollution crisis, littering our streets, parks, rivers, and oceans and clogging already overfilled landfills. Cutting down trees and using more fossil fuels to manufacture items that aren’t even used makes no sense in the middle of a climate crisis. As Massachusetts works towards reaching its climate goals, eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics is a simple and easy step in the right direction.
The problem is getting worse and accelerating. According to The Washington Post, digital orders increased by 127 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the same time previous year, and according to the NIH, consumption of single-use plastics has increased by 250-300 percent between 2019 and 2021. For context, Conservation Law Foundation reports that half of all MA towns and cities surveyed saw costs increase by 50% or more between 2017 and 2020. The time to act is now.
A significant amount of this unnecessary waste can be avoided by enacting H766. This bill creates a statewide Skip the Stuff policy, where restaurants and food service businesses may only provide single-use accessories to customers that request them. This ensures that only the people who want these items will get them. The policy also requires meal delivery services to add an option that allows customers to choose the items and quantities of single-use accessories they want included in their order. Customers that don’t want these items won’t receive them. In response to other legislation and consumer demand, UberEats has already amended its app to include this option.
Not only will this policy reduce waste, but it also may help save restaurants and food service businesses money by reducing the need to purchase single-use accessories that will never be used. According to ShondaLand, in 2021, when Los Angeles enacted a Skip the Stuff ordinance, the ordinance was supported by local restaurants, GrubHub, and the California Restaurant Association.
This type of policy has already been enacted in California and Washington. In addition to Los Angeles, several major cities such as Denver, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York City have passed policies as well.
Furthermore, single-use plastics almost always end up polluting landfills and incinerators. These dangerous waste facilities are disproportionately located in communities of color and low-income communities throughout the Commonwealth who are already burdened by environmental injustices like poor air quality. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to air pollution is connected to health hazards including asthma, cardiovascular impacts, and other diseases. It is time to move away from landfills and incinerators as the default solution to our waste. When we cut off the excessive production of single-use plastics, this moves us towards creating healthier, equitable communities.
We respectfully urge you to ACT NOW and pass legislation that requires restaurants to “ask first” and delivery and online ordering platforms to provide a customer opt-in for the specific accessories and condiments on the menu of each restaurant. This common-sense legislation will drastically help reduce waste and litter in the Commonwealth.
We thank you for your time and attention to this important bill.