Berkeley City Council unanimously approves 25-cent fee on disposable

SAN FRANCISCO -- Patrons of restaurants and coffee shops in Berkeley, California, who don't bring a reusable cup for their beverage will have to pay a 25-cent fee for a disposable cup as part of an ordinance approved by city officials to eliminate restaurant waste.

Berkeley's City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the fee on single-use cups, which will take effect January 2020.

"The goal is to transition Berkeley from throwaway to reusable food ware, to incentivize people to bring their own cup," said Councilwoman Sophie Hahn, who proposed the ordinance with Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

Restaurants would keep all proceeds, and it would be up to them to decide what to do with the extra money, Hahn said. She said it could be invested on more environmentally friendly food ware.

The ordinance also requires restaurants to provide takeout containers that are compostable by mid-2020 and to provide only reusable plates and utensils for those eating in. It also says other disposable items, like lids and stirrers, can only be offered when requested.

The single-use cup fee is the latest effort in the socially progressive city to reduce waste. Bans on plastic bags received support in the city of 100,000 long before California imposed its ban in 2014.

Berkeley pioneered recycling in the 1970s, but that alone is no longer enough, Hahn said.

"We were the first city in the U.S. to do curbside recycling, and people thought we were crazy," she said. "But we pioneered that, and it has become the norm across the world."

Berkeley voters also became the first in the country to approve taxing sodas to curb consumption, after costly campaigns by the soda industry helped defeat similar taxes in more than 30 other cities and states in recent years.
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