Berkeley Introduces ‘Disposable-Free Dining' Legislation

Ordinance would include 25-cent surcharge on disposable take-out foodware

The Berkeley City Council introduced a new "disposable-free dining" legislation Tuesday in hopes of reducing disposable foodware from restaurants and other food retailers.

Standing in front of giant piles of plastic wastes at the Berkeley Recycling Yard, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, one of the authors of the legislation, said "Plastic might be convenient but it carries a steep price."

The legislation would give reusable foodware to all Berkeley restaurants and all takeout containers and utensils would have to be pre-approved recyclable or compostable in the city’s collection programs, according to Arreguin.

Customers would be asked to pay 25 cents for every disposable cup and container provided by the vendors in Berkeley.

"Berkeley does a good job with composting and recycling, but it is not enough. We need to start reducing our waste as well," Council Member Sophie Hahn said in a statement.

Plastics require 100 to 400 years to break down at the landfill, according the Environmental Protection Agency, and it never fully breaks down in the ocean, where most plastic trash ends up.

Trillions of pieces of plastic debris currently float in the Pacific and it's 3.8 times the size of California.

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