Chicago restaurants could be forced to eliminate foam packaging for food and reduce their use of disposable plastic under a new ordinance introduced at City Council Wednesday.
Ald. Scott Waguespack proposed that, beginning in 2021, the city should ban the use of polystyrene packaging and reduce the use of any disposable products like utensils, straws, drink tops, napkins, stirrers and more.
Under the ordinance, restaurants would be able to serve disposable items “only upon request of the customer or at self-serve stations,” with the exception of delivery items. Plastic drinking straws can also only be provided “when specifically requested.”
Restaurants will be allowed to provide disposable foodware if it is compostable or recyclable under the ordinance.
Those that violate the ordinance would face fees of up to $500.
The move aims to reduce plastic in waterways because “single use plastic and polystyrene consume non-renewable resources and are often thrown away and become litter, which pollutes waters, parks, forests, storms drains, and other public spaces,” the ordinance states.
The proposal was backed by environmental groups, including the Illinois Environmental Council, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Chicago Recycling Coalition and more.