Berkeley Considers Surcharge on Take-Out Food Containers

posted by RJ Johnson @rickerthewriter -

Berkeley may charge a quarter for take-out food containers

Take-out in Berkeley may be getting a bit more expensive. 

The Berkeley city council will hold a public hearing Tuesday night to on what's called the Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance. The ordinance would require food vendors to add 25-cents for every single-use, disposable cup or container and only give out compostable napkins, straws and utensils if a customer requests them. 

One of the co-authors of the ordinance, Council member Sophie Hahn, says residents in Berkeley already do a good job of composting and recycling, but the city needs to do more to reduce waste. 

“Single-use disposable foodware is a local and global problem, one with enormous financial and environmental costs,” says Council Member Sophie Hahn, the ordinance’s co-author. “As a city striving toward Zero Waste, we do a good job with composting and recycling, but it is not enough. We need to start reducing our waste as well.”

According to a recent Clean Water Action study, food and beverage containers make up most of all Bay Area street litter, which end up in the region's waterways. The Regional Water Board requires that Bay Area cities must clean up street litter to avoid clogging storm drains by 2022. 

Last year, one activist group, the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District picked up over 22 tons of litter. 

“Our throw-away culture is leading to a proliferation of plastics in our food, air, and drinking water, which threatens human health and all ocean life. The solutions must focus on reducing the use of disposable food packaging that is the biggest contributor to the problem,” says Upstream’s Policy Director Miriam Gordon. “Globally, we’ve seen that charging consumers for plastic bags is the most effective way to shift people from disposables to reusables. The Disposable-Free Dining ordinance builds on that strategy.”

Photo: Getty Images

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