ESG – State ban on plastic bags and straw – An update

Earlier this year, Duane Morris Government Services issued an alert that discussed states and municipalities across the country ban plastic bags in strength. In addition to banning plastic bags, states and communities have also looked at plastic straw bans as advocates seek to reduce plastic pollution because plastics are not biodegradable and cannot break down naturally. It is estimated that Americans use 500 million straws every day. While some laws only contain plastic straw bans, other laws combine plastic straws with other plastic bans.

Connecticut: Connecticut lawmakers featured HB 6502 earlier this year to ban the automatic distribution of single-use plastic straws in certain catering establishments. Specifically, the bill, effective January 1, 2022, prohibit full-service restaurants from providing customers with single-use plastic straws unless they request it or the customer has a disability. The legislation defines a “full service restaurant ” as an establishment that primarily serves food for consumption on-site and where an employee does the following: (1) escorts and seats the customer, (2) takes the customer’s food and beverage order after the customer is seated, (3) deliver the order and all requested related items to the customer, and (4) bring the check for the order to the customer’s table.

In the event of a violation of the bill, the owner or operator of a restaurant would receive warnings for a first or second offense and a fine for a third offense. The fine would be $ 25 for each day of violation, up to $ 300 in a single year. The enforcement power would rest with a municipal or district health service that has jurisdiction over the restaurant. The Plastic Straw Ban Bill also does not prohibit municipalities from passing or implementing ordinances or rules that further restrict a full-service restaurant from providing its customers with plastic straws. for single use only, as long as the ordinance or rule does not prohibit a restaurant from providing a single plastic straw. -use plastic straw for a disabled person.

HB 6502 would also phase out the use of certain polystyrene trays and food containers.

Maine: In March 2021, lawmakers in Maine introduced LD 602, which would prohibit the manufacture, sale and distribution, at retail or wholesale, of single-use plastic straws, splash sticks and beverage lids wholly or partially of plastic.

The law further prohibits food and catering establishments from providing such items to customers at a point of sale or otherwise making them available to customers. However, food and catering establishments are permitted to provide single-use straws, splash-proof sticks or non-plastic beverage lid caps only upon customer request. The establishment must also collect a charge of at least $ 0.05 from the customer for each item supplied.

Massachusetts: Massachusetts lawmakers introduced H. 998 earlier this year for restrict the ddistribution of disposable plastic straws prohibiting food establishments from providing such straws to customers unless the customer requests it. H. 998 defines a “catering establishment”As an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, sells or in any other way provides food for human consumption, including, but not limited to, any establishment requiring an operating permit under the State Food Code.

The bill states that the straw ban must not include a straw made from non-plastic materials, such as paper, pulp, cane, wood or bamboo.

In mid-June, lawmakers have scheduled a virtual hearing to discuss legislation banning plastic straw. However, Bill has not seen action since.

Mississippi: In the last session, Mississippi lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 2071, who would have prohibits a food establishment from providing a single-use plastic straw unless a consumer requests such a straw.

The bill’s definition of a “food establishment” is complete. The bill’s definition of a food establishment is as follows: any outlet, store, store, or other place of business located in the state of Mississippi that operates primarily to sell or transport food directly to the end consumer. , including any place where food is prepared, mixed, cooked, cooked, smoked, preserved, bottled, packaged, handled, stored, manufactured and sold or offered for sale, including, but not limited to, any fixed or mobile restaurant, drive-in, café, cafeteria, short-term café, delicatessen, luncheonette, grill, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail bar, nightclub, roadside kiosk , place of prepared meals to take away, catering kitchen, commissary, grocery store, public food market, food stand or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for sale or to be served on the premises or elsewhere, and any other established facility or operation where food is processed, prepared, stored, served or provided to the public for a fee.

SB 2071 died in committee in February 2021.

New York: Two complementary bills in New York were introduced this year regarding plastic straws. A207 and S1505 would allow restaurants to supply only single-use plastic straws, unless a customer requests it. Legislation differently prohibits restaurants from providing customers with single-use plastic straws or single-use plastic stirrers. In addition, the bill specifies that restaurants providing compostable straws or agitators to customers must have access to selective collection of food waste for composting.

The Bills define a restaurant as any restaurant or other food or beverage establishment that offers food or drink for sale to the public, guests, members or customers, whether consumption takes place on-site or at outside.

Neither bill has advanced this session.

Rhode Island: In July, Governor Daniel McKee senacted Senate Bill 5131 / Senate Bill 155. The new law prohibits a food service establishment from providing a single-use plastic straw to a consumer unless the consumer requests it. The bill will be entered into force on January 1, 2022, and instructs the director of health to promulgate and adopt rules and regulations to enforce the new ban on plastic straw.

Rhode Island’s new plastic straw ban sets a “disposable plastic straw“As a single-use, disposable tube composed primarily of petroleum-derived plastic or a biological polymer, such as corn or other plant sources, used to transfer a beverage from a container to the mouth of the drinker the beverage. Single-use straws, under the bill, do not include a straw made of non-plastic materials including, but not limited to paper, pulp, cane, wood or bamboo .

The bill further defines a “catering establishment ” like any fixed or mobile restaurant, coffee shop, cafeteria, coffee shop, lunch, grill, tea room, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern; bar, lounge bar, nightclub, roadside stand, industrial food establishment, cultural heritage educational establishment, private, public or non-profit organization or institution regularly serving food, catering kitchen , commissary or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for sale or for service on site or elsewhere, and any other establishment or catering establishment where food is served or provided to the public with or without charge.

New Jersey:

On November 4, 2020, Governor Murphy promulgated the law PL 2020, c117, who prohibits the use of single-use plastic carrier bags in all stores and catering businesses statewide and disposable paper take-out bags in grocery stores that occupy 2,500 square feet or more as of May 4, 2022.

As of May 4, 2022, businesses in New Jersey will no longer be able to sell or supply single-use plastic take-out bags to their customers. Businesses that decide to sell or provide reusable take-out bags must ensure that the bags meet the requirements set out in the law.

The law defines reusable bags like those who:

  • Are made of polypropylene fabric, PET non-woven fabric, nylon, fabric, hemp product or other washable fabric; and
  • Have sewn handles; and
  • Are designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.

Under the new law, Styrofoam catering products and foods sold or supplied in Styrofoam catering products will also be prohibited as of May 4, 2022, and catering companies will only be allowed to supply single-use plastic straws upon request from November 4, 2021.

However, the following products will be exempt for a supplement two years, until May 4, 2024:

  • Long-handled polystyrene foam disposable soda spoons when needed and used for thick drinks;
  • Serving size of cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids;
  • Meat and fish trays for raw or cut meat, including poultry, or fish which is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;
  • Any food product prepackaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product; and
  • Any other polystyrene foam food service product as determined necessary by DEP.

Triple Bottom Line – Although it is often inconvenient not to be able to carry goods from a store or restaurant in a plastic bag or to drink from a plastic straw, as more and more states focus on the growing problem of plastic waste entering the water supply and creating landfill capacity issues, it is very likely that more and more states will continue to enact some level of bag bans by plastic and plastic straw as a way to start tackling this problem. Plastic recycling would also start to start solving the problem, but has yet to become an economic reality given the cost of building facilities that could collect and recycle applicable plastic in bags and straws and similar materials. .

Bryce K. Locke