Berkeley sets nationwide standard with ordinance on disposable plastic foodware

by Perry Wheeler

January 23, 2019

Berkeley, CA – The City of Berkeley passed the nation’s most ambitious, comprehensive ordinance on disposable plastic foodware last night in a unanimous vote. The ordinance, which was championed by the Ecology Center and Berkeley Councilmember Sophie Hahn, tackles single-use plastics in the following ways:

  • Immediately requires that accessory items like utensils, straws, lids, and sleeves be provided by request only.
  • Immediately requires food vendors to have compost bins for customers.
  • By January 1, 2020, requires all disposable takeout foodware to be BPI certified compostable.
  • By January 1, 2020, requires that all vendors charge 25 cents for hot and cold takeout cups. If a customer provides their own cup, the charge is not applied.
  • By July 1, 2020, requires that all eat-in dining be in reusable foodware.

In response to the news, Greenpeace Executive Director and Berkeley resident Annie Leonard, said:

“By passing this groundbreaking ordinance, Berkeley has sent a resounding message to the rest of the country about how to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. The ordinance is comprehensive and acts with the urgency needed to confront the throwaway culture that fuels overconsumption. It is the most forward-thinking approach we’ve seen to date in this country, and one that other cities and states should look toward in shaping their own efforts to phase out single-use plastics.

“We won’t solve the plastic pollution crisis through piecemeal approaches that swap out one throwaway material for another. Local and national governments should be working with partners to find innovative solutions that promote reuse and refill systems. And corporations should be investing some of their endless profits into fundamentally rethinking how products are brought to people. Berkeley has taken a major step in the right direction, and put forth a blueprint for creating a world without throwaway plastics.”


Contact: Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Senior Communications Specialist, P: 301-675-8766

Perry Wheeler

By Perry Wheeler

Perry Wheeler is a senior communications specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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