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Berkeley residents might want to start bringing ceramic mugs from home to their favorite coffee shops.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a new ordinance that will require all food businesses to charge customers 25 cents for disposable cups. The goal is to reduce the amount of litter being dumped into landfalls and ending up on city streets.
The Single Use Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance also requires that all takeout foodware be compostable and all dine-in foodware be reusable by January 2020. Even fast-food restaurants such as Burger King will need to provide reusable forks. It may be be the most progressive zero-waste initiative ever implemented in a city.
“Many Berkeley restaurants have already switched to compostable to-go ware and reusables for dining-in, and we’re asking all food vendors to follow their visionary example,” councilmember Sophie Hahn, who authored the legislation, said in a statement. “Recycling is no longer a solution – if we want to save the planet, it’s time to reduce, reuse and compost.”
Based on Berkeley’s population of around 120,000 people, an estimated 40 million single-use cups are used in the city annually. Many of these aren’t recycled and contribute to the nation’s ever-growing garbage heap.
Some restaurant owners are concerned about the impacts on their profit margins, however.
“The more we charge for a cup of coffee, the less people are going to be willing to go out and spend money on a cup of coffee,” Max Harris of Saul’s Restaurant and Diner, who supports environmental goals, told KTVU. “In the end, I think that cost will be passed on to the consumer, who hopefully understands and is supportive of this initiative.”
Rich Avella, the founder and owner of Highwire Coffee Roasters and 4TRack Tea in Berkeley, also has some concerns about the impact on business.
“I wonder if people living in Berkeley and working in Oakland might wait to buy their coffee in Oakland where they don’t have the ordinance,” Avella says.
But at the end of the day, he supports the charge he’ll be imposing on his customers. In his shops, he already uses compostable products and stopped offering plastic straws to reduce waste, and he says, “I think this ordinance is a chance to change public sentiment in a bigger way. When I see what happened by charging customers for bags paper bag and now people are bringing their own bags, I see it took that to get this idea around mass consciousness.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Single-Use-Disposable-Foodware-and-Litter-Reductio-13554995.php.