Judge Upholds the 2013 Law Banning Polystyrene for Takeout Containers and Coffee Cups
In 2019 restaurants must begin phasing polystyrene cups and containers out of use. This change is a result of a ruling that came down from an appeal that had challenged the new law in 2013. The appeal had suspended implementation of the law until the court rendered its decision. One of the main arguments alleged by parties challenging the law was that it was not difficult to dispose of Styrofoam products. Research that parties had presented and included in the appeal supported this argument.
Facts of the Case
In 2013, the Restaurant Action Alliance (RAA) argued that 40 to 60 percent of sales involved food or beverages served in polystyrene containers and that adopting other alternatives would raise costs by $11.2 million a year.
A pilot program run in Manhattan by restaurants, retailers and plastics manufacturers provided evidence to the Supreme Court in Manhattan that had resulted in halting the enactment of the law in 2015. However, the New York City government conducted its own research and released a report in 2017 that resulted in convincing Supreme Court Judge Margaret Chan to put the law into effect.
According to information published in a Restaurant Business article, restaurants will face a fine in July 2019 if they have not worked out an alternative to the polystyrene cups and containers.
Will Plastic Straws Be Next?
In May of 2018, a NYC council member proposed the idea of banning plastic straws to cut down on plastic pollution. A number of cities in various states such as Malibu, California and Miami, Florida have already banned plastic straws. Davis and San Luis Obispo in California require that restaurants do not provide customers with straws unless requested. Customers requesting straws must receive paper straws. At this time, the elimination of straw use in Europe is more widespread than in North America.
McDonald’s has pledged to continue its research for alternatives to plastic straws.
While it has yet to happen, New York City restaurant owners may have to contend with this change as well.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates work with restaurant owners to help them comply with labor laws affecting their industry and to deal with employment issues.