Beginning March 1, 2024, the City of Newton’s expanded sustainable packaging ordinance will require food establishments to provide single use accessory dining items (straws, napkins, utensils, chopsticks, condiments, etc.) only upon the request or agreement of the customer. Items will no longer be automatically included in take out orders. Food establishments may alternatively provide self-service stations. Part of a national movement, this Skip the Stuff provision is intended to help reduce unnecessary single use plastic waste in the city.

Where available, restaurants will provide the option  for customers to “opt-in” (e.g., by checking a box or toggling) to receive accessory items on their online ordering platforms.  Customers can also request when ordering in person or by phone.


On September 18, 2023, the City Council passed by a vote of 22-0, the updated “Sustainable Food and Beverage Serviceware, Packaging, and Single Use Ordinance.” This ordinance aims to reduce the use of single-use takeout containers that cannot be reused, composted, or recycled. Examples of these includes black plastic containers and plastic lined paper containers. Non-container items such as plastic utensils and condiments will only be offered at the customer’s request. Here are the details of the new ordinance:

  • All retail stores that sell single use dishware (paper plates, plastic utensils, etc.) and packing materials must ensure that these items are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
  • Full service, sit-down restaurants will be required to use reusable dishware.
  • All food establishments are required to distribute food & drinks in dishware and containers (if larger than 4 ounces) that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
  • All food establishments shall only distribute single use dining items (straws, napkins, utensils, chopsticks, condiments, etc.) upon request or at self-service stations.
  • The City of Newton, including our public schools, must serve foods & drinks prepared on-site in dishware/containers that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable and may only distribute condiment packages upon request.
  • The intentional release of helium balloons is prohibited.

Newton joins Andover, Brookline, Concord, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Northampton, and Williamstown in requiring that food service ware be reusable, compostable, or recyclable. Many other communities around the country (in California, for example) and the world (including Canada, Great Britain, and several countries in Europe) already have similar bans in place.