NJ Restaurants Unhappy About Proposed Plastic Utensil Ban
Ten months ago, New Jersey adopted a no-nonsense single-use bag ban, making it illegal for supermarkets and stores.
Now a measure, A5332, is moving forward to prohibit food service businesses from handing out plastic utensils or condiments to customers, except in certain limited cases, and not everyone is happy about it.
According to Dana Lancellotti, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association, her organization understands efforts to increase sustainability and cut down on waste in landfills.
But she said restaurants and hotels continue to make tremendous strides in this regard “and instead of another piece of legislation, it would be more sensible to educate the public and food establishment operators on the importance of sustainability and the conservative use of the distribution of single-use plastics.”
A proposed strict rule about getting a plastic fork
The measure stipulates the only way a customer would be able to get a plastic knife, fork or spoon, or container of ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing or anything else in a plastic container would be to specifically request the item individually.
She said the Association would be more than happy to launch a campaign teaching state residents and business owners about this issue rather than “having the government put in another mandate that interferes with business and the way they’re able to thrive.”
She says this would strain the industry
She noted most restaurants continue to struggle with labor shortages and supply chain issues, “so to add another thing to the heap right now, would yes really strain the industry.”
Lancellotti also objected to a provision in the bill that stipulates any food service business with on-site seating capacity for 50 or more customers would be required to provide reusable utensils.
“They would indeed have to add more labor to their number of staff they’re trying to fulfill, which is already currently a challenge.”
Give a container of ketchup, face a stiff fine
She said to have thriving restaurants and hotels and related businesses “we have to help support the ability for them to thrive, rather than intercept with more guidelines and policies that they have to worry about getting fined for.”
The legislation would fine any food service business that violates provisions of the bill $1,000 for a first offense, $2,500 for a second offense and $5,000 for the third and each subsequent offense.
The sponsor of the measure, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, declined to be interviewed.
The bill has been referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.