New Skip the Stuff Denver ordinance helps businesses and customers avoid unwanted utensils and condiment packets, reduce waste

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DENVER – Businesses, city leaders and waste reduction advocates gathered Thursday to celebrate the implementation of a new Denver ordinance, which went into effect in January, that will reduce the amount of unwanted utensils, condiment packets, napkins, straws and other items customers get when they place delivery and to-go orders. Given the rise in takeout food over the last few years, the ordinance will reduce waste and help restaurants struggling with supply-chain issues.

“Everyone has a drawer at home where unnecessary plastic forks, spoons, and condiment packets go when we find them in our bags of takeout food,” said Danny Katz, executive director of CoPIRG. “The new Denver Skip the Stuff ordinance will help customers avoid these unwanted items and result in less unnecessary waste.”

The Denver Skip the Stuff ordinance went into effect in January. It requires restaurants and takeout/deliver food apps to ask customers whether they want items including utensils, napkins, and condiment packets before providing them. By verifying whether customers want these disposable items, it will reduce the number of unwanted single-use items that are thrown away, which will cut overall waste and help save restaurants money. 

“The local restaurant industry supports this effort for several reasons, including helping to reduce waste and reduce costs, plus introducing more consistency in customer expectations at all restaurants in the area,” said Katie Lazor, executive director of EatDenver

“Since its adoption, I’m already seeing changes in delivery providers like Grubhub, which is making it easier for us to identify those customers who don’t want utensils and other items,” said Mark Whistler, owner of the Route 40 Cafe on Colfax. “This ordinance is well-timed for my business. The supply chain issues are making it harder for me to have enough napkins and utensils for my customers so being able to avoid giving items to people who don’t want them, is a big help. Plus, skipping this stuff could add back as much as two percent to my bottom line, which is big given the other cost increases my business is dealing with right now.”

“We encourage Denverites to rethink our waste habits and opt-out of single-use items, so we can stop waste before it starts,” said Grace Rink, chief climate officer for Denver. “This ordinance will reduce some of the demand for plastics, which we know has a detrimental effect on our environment.”

All participants agreed that education will be key to ensure the new ordinance maximizes the positive impact for customers and businesses. As part of implementation, the City and County of Denver has a new webpage, posters and factsheets to help businesses comply and are actively working to educate customers about the new changes so everyone has a chance to Skip the Stuff they don’t want. 

As Denver continues to roll out implementation, a new bi-partisan bill by Representative Brianna Titone and Senator Kevin Priola was introduced modeled off Denver’s work.

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