The City of Newton’s expanded sustainable packaging ordinance will go into effect this week, and food establishments will be required to use takeout containers that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable. In addition, Newton has implemented Skip the Stuff, which means that accessory items like forks, straws, and condiment packages will no longer be automatically placed into orders. The ordinance aims to further reduce the quantity of single use plastics generated in the city. Single use plastic bags, polystyrene containers, foam packing peanuts, and plastic stirrers have already been banned in Newton.

What will be different?

  • Single use accessory items will no longer be automatically given out. Customers will need to request or consent to receiving items such as straws, utensils, chopsticks, condiments, etc. when ordering their food for take out or in-restaurant dining. A restaurant can also offer them at a self-service station. This effort to reduce unnecessary single use plastic waste is in line with the national campaign called Skip the Stuff.
  • Non-recyclable black plastic containers and plastic coated paper containers will be phased out at restaurants and retail stores. Light colored and clear plastic, aluminum, and glass containers can be placed in the green curbside recycling carts. Soiled uncoated paper containers should be thrown in the trash or placed in the composting bin.
  • Compostable coffee cups and compostable plastic lined paper containers will be phased in at restaurants and retail stores. Look for labels indicating that they are certified compostable. These items can be collected by a curbside organics collection service such as Black Earth Compost or deposited at any of the free city organics collection sites.

A number of Newton restaurants offer takeout orders in reusable takeout containers through a phone app tracking system. These containers can be rinsed and returned to any of the participating restaurants—57 Lincoln, Grape Leaf Mediterranean Grill, Johnny’s Luncheonette, Judith’s Kitchen, Little Luke’s Cafe, and Paddy’s Public House (leftover food).

The City of Newton also permits customers to bring in clean reusable cups for filling with hot beverages. Starbucks has made this practice company policy. Restaurant customers may also bring in clean reusable containers to fill with leftover food to take home.

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.