Berkeley, California has become the first city in the US to impose a city-wide fee of 25 cents on café-goers who do not bring their own reusable cup. The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously for the Disposable-Free Dining measure, which will take effect in 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 created the measure with Mayor Jesse Arreguin. “We were the first city in the U.S. to do curbside recycling, and people thought we were crazy. But we pioneered that, and it has become the norm across the world.”
Berkeley has long been recognised as a socially progressive city, and the single-cup fee is the latest in a long line of environmentally friendly measure to reduce waste. It banned plastic straws and plastic bags long before California introduced state-wide measures, banned Styrofoam as early as 1980 and has also taxed high-sugar soft drinks.
Stuart Baker, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District, said that businesses support the move but are worried about the financial impact that it might have.
“Everyone is excited about doing something about the environment — and then the food price goes up but the student doesn't make the connection and stops eating out and business goes down. That's a concern,” he said. “For this to be successful, people need to understand this will impact their pocketbook.”