Reusable Food Takeout Boxes On The Table in NYC

The Choose 2 Reuse bill is intended to improve restaurant sustainability but could cause friction.

April 26, 2023

New York—Choose 2 Reuse, a bill introduced in the New York City Council this month, aims to improve sustainability in the restaurant industry, but could add friction to a customer experience that is typically defined by its convenience.

The bill would require corporate-owned, fast-fast casual restaurants in New York City to provide the option of reusable, returnable containers for dine-in, takeout and delivery, rather than using single-use packaging currently used in foodservice, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Consumers would be asked to later return their reusable food packaging and utensils either through delivery or logistics partners who come to pick them up or in person via receptacles at participating restaurants.

Proponents say they believe many customers are ready stop throwing containers in the trash for the benefit of reducing throwaway plastics, while those who aren’t would still be able to receive single-use packaging.

“We’re making sure we are looking at this in a manner that is very pragmatic for our community,” said City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, the bill’s lead sponsor.

The bill follows the adoption of more stringent legislation in France, which has required restaurants that seat 20 or more people to serve food in reusable packages for those dining in, also in Germany, there is now a mandate for reusable options for takeout from food sellers with five or more employees and at least 861 square feet of space.

Some restaurant and food-delivery companies are forging ahead with reusables, primarily driven by internal sustainability goals and demand from environmentally minded customers.

The Choose 2 Reuse bill could set the tone for other cities to follow suit if passed.

If the bill passed, restaurants not offering reusable options would be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and upward for every new offense.