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‘Right to refill act’ introduced in NY state

(WBNG) — New proposed legislation in New York State, known as the ‘right to refill act,’ would allow customers to bring in their own reusable food and drink containers into restaurants.

It was introduced by lawmakers with the goal of cutting down on plastic and single-use containers.

“Allowing people and encouraging people to bring in their coffee mugs and reuse their water bottles and their coffee mugs is the direction we want to encourage,” said state Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.

Some restaurants in the Southern Tier say it’s a step in the right direction, and something they already do.

“Some people come and bring in their own coffee mugs. And we’ll fill that up for a large to-go let’s say. So that will help out a little bit,” said Broadway Diner owner John Anastos.

But it’s not just plastic and styrofoam cups that are the concern. It’s also containers you may take your left-overs home in.

“If they’re here and they have their own containers and they want to take the rest of their food home to go, that would be very helpful,” said Anastos.

The Skylark Diner is ahead of the curve. Its recently stopped using plastic cups and styrofoam containers, bringing in more sustainable options.

“A couple of them are actually biodegradable. Other ones are plant-based plastics, that just recently hit the market,” said Skylark Diner owner Greg Stevens.

While there are many perks, restaurant owners do have some cause for concern. Like not knowing if there’s anything in the containers customers bring with them.

“My only issue with that is we’re held to such strict health guidelines from the Department of Health so we don’t know what people are bringing in, so I don’t know how we can figure out what is actually going to be not a threat to our service,” said Stevens.

Meanwhile, others say the proposal is a pretty good band-aid on an expensive problem.

“It’s a big challenge for this industry,” said Anastos. “Like metal straws, but the cost is a huge difference. A restaurant can’t. It’s a big burden.”

If the proposed law gets passed, it would also require restaurants to post signs, informing customers they’re allowed to bring in their own containers.

Annie Flaherty

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