City of Berkeley could require 25-cent tax on restaurants’ disposable cups

Photo: AgFang (iStock)

Many environmental campaigns are pushing to eventually eliminate single-use items like plastic straws and paper cups. While some efforts point toward recycling, others stress that reduction is the only clear answer. To that end, the town of Berkeley, California, is voting next week on an ordinance that would charge customers 25 cents per disposable beverage cup, says The Sacramento Bee.

A news release from advocacy group Break Free From Plastic says that the Disposable Foodware And Litter Reduction Ordinance “would force restaurants, cafes and other drink sellers to charge customers 25 cents for each disposable beverage cup they need.” Diners at fast-food restaurants, coffeeshops, and the like would have to carry around their own reusable cups, or else be charged for the use of a disposable cup.

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The City Council introduced the draft ordinance last year, and held a number of public listening sessions, “received over 60 pages of input, and submitted recommendations back to City Council,” says the news release. The ordinance then was revised further before a vote was schedule for next Tuesday.

While the prospective tax might seem a bit harsh, most environmental advocates feel that the global pollution crisis in oceans and elsewhere is not going to improve without some decisive action. As Councilwoman Sophie Hahn told the San Francisco Chronicle last year when introducing the proposal, “The idea that we can just use stuff and recycle it and it’ll be rosy on the other end is just not the reality… We simply have to change our relationship with disposable food ware and ultimately all disposable items.”

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.