BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – Berkeley is considering a trailblazing idea when it comes to curbing the use of disposable food packaging and it could make people pay extra for to-go items.
Whether its your coffee cup, or your grilled cheese sandwich, if you’re taking it in a to-go container, it could soon cost you 25 cents more in the city of Berkeley.
Berkeley resident Alex Melendrez said, “That’s a little iffy, even non-plastic? Oh wow, yeah. I don’t know how I feel about that. That’s a little different.”
Consumers say they are unhappy about the idea of paying extra for anything in the Bay Area, especially the to-go containers that are already compostable.
Berkeley resident Dana Ellsworth said, “I think that’s a mistake.”
Alex Naka, also a Berkeley resident, said, “I think if it was more nuanced or biased towards plastic I’d feel more positively about it.”
Berkeley City Councilwoman Sophie Hahn said, “To-go food packaging is responsible for the vast majority of litter on our streets, of litter in our waterways.”
Hahn says the ordinance should save restaurants money in the long-term. She reminds people that the plastic bag ban reduced not just the use of plastic bags, but the purchases of paper bags in Alameda County by 85 percent.
Hahn said, “We know that this works and that’s why we’re doing it.”
If it passes, restaurants would be required to provide reusable, durable dishes for all food consumed inside the restaurant.
To-go containers would have to be compostable and each one would cost the consumer 25 cents.
Straws and single use items like coffee stirrers would only be provided upon request.
Hahn says the recycling system is overwhelmed and that not everything that can be recycled actually is recycled.
Hahn said, “Even though you have that little thing on the bottom of your cup or your container that says recyclable or compostable, it doesn’t mean that in your jurisdiction it is actually going to be recycled.”
The ordinance will be heard for the first time at the Berkeley City Council meeting and if everything goes smoothly it could be enacted as early as this fall.
Oakland City Council also just considered a proposed ban on single-use plastic straws for customers. That ordinance passed unanimously.