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Mayor De Blasio Bans NYC Agencies From Buying Plasticware

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City workers will soon have to say goodbye to plasticware in their break rooms.

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an executive order prohibiting city agencies from buying any unnecessary single-use plastics, including straws, cutlery, cups and plates, all in an effort to prevent climate change, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

The ban will not apply to plastic foodware used by people who need such items due to disabilities or emergency preparedness and medical uses. 

De Blasio called plastic manufacturers "the villain here" for creating the glut of widespread use of such products.

"Big Oil has been pushing single-use plastics for too long -- and it stops here," de Blasio said. "They litter our beaches and parks, jam our recycling machines, and contribute to climate change. Our actions today will help us build a fairer city for all New Yorkers."

New York City buys more than one million pounds of single-use plastic foodware every year. The mayor said his executive order to city agencies to purchase compostable and recyclable alternatives, like ones made of paper, corn and bamboo, will reduce the city's carbon emissions by about 500 tons per year, decrease plastic pollution and reduce risks to wildlife.

"Today, we say no to plastics. We say no to fossil fuels. We say yes to a better and fairer future," de Blasio said.

Web Extra: Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces Push To Ban Single-Use Plastics 

City schools, hospitals, jails and other city agencies have been directed to immediately begin reducing their use of single-use plastic and prepare for a reduction plan within 120 days. Full implementation of the reduction plan is expected by the end of the year.

De Blasio also pushed for legislation to reduce the use of plastic foodware in private establishments.

"We need to get plastic foodware out of restaurants, out of stores. We need to get it out of our lives," he said.

All across the five boroughs, tens of millions of pounds of single-use plastic foodware are collected from residential waste streams and commercial establishments every year, Sanchez reported.

"By ending our reliance on these items we will remove 1.1 million ton of plastic from our landfills," NYC chief climate policy officer Dan Zarrilli said. "We'll reduce those carbon emissions, cut down on plastic pollution that litters our streets, clogs our waterways and spoils our oceans and marine life."

"If we don't stop today, by 2050 we will have more plastic than fish in our oceans," City Councilman Rafael Espinal added.

MORE: Plastic Bag Ban Set To Come To New York Next March

Some New Yorkers said they are all for helping the environment, while others criticized the mayor for ignoring some of the city's more important needs.

"I agree 100 percent. We have too much plastic in all the oceans and every little bit helps," Midtown resident Ron Torres told CBS2's Marcia Kramer.

"I think it's ridiculous. We have bigger problems," Midtown's Brian Durkin added. "Take a look around the city and there are just so many problems, right? You have the homeless. Look at the streets. They are so dirty. Look at the garbage everywhere. He needs to stay in town and forget about banning plastic straws."

"I think it's a good idea. Help save the environment. Some of the restaurants near where I live have already started using sustainable supplies and everything," added Kianna Ruff of Morningside Heights.

Citing his aim to keep New York in compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the mayor wants to have the Big Apple reduce its carbon emissions at least 80 percent by 2050.

On Jan. 1, 2019, the city implemented a ban on single-use foam products, such as cups, plates, trays, clamshell containers, or polystyrene loose fill packaging -- also known as "packing peanuts."

De Blasio also noted the city is divesting its pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners, and has filed a lawsuit seeking damages from five companies he blamed for influencing climate change.

The city said the executive order will cost more than the $1 million it currently spends every year on single-use plastic products.

There isn't an exact price tag. The city said it is still taking bids.

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