Berkeley passes most ambitious zero waste ordinance in country

CALPIRG Students advocated for policy to protect the oceans

Press Release

The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to implement one of the most sweeping Zero Waste ordinances in the US. It sets a timeline for all restaurants, cafes, and bars to phase out plastic food containers and utensils and creates incentives for using reusable products by adding a small fee for disposable or single-use products, similar to the small fee for getting a grocery bag in California.
We have a “stuff problem” in the US. We throw away 50 million polystyrene cups and 500 million straws EVERY day. We can move away from harmful plastics and single use products without sacrificing our way of life. With the hard work of a coalition of nonprofits and local activists led by the Ecology Center, our city is taking a huge step in the right direction.  
CALPIRG Students, a statewide student advocacy group at the University of California, worked to ensure the passage of this ordinance by making public comment at various commission and city council meetings, lobbying five of the city council members to advocate for a yes vote, and getting community members to make over 100 calls into city council urging a yes vote. This builds on years of work helping ban plastic grocery bags in over 100 cities in California and statewide.
“I am thrilled to see such a comprehensive ordinance that will change the packaging industry and consumer habits. We are proud that the City of Berkeley continues to lead the way in waste reduction policy and look forward to continuing to push the envelope on this important issue,” says Nicole Haynes, the campaign coordinator for CALPIRG’s Plastic Free campaign. “Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our oceans for hundreds of years. We are continuing to build support for a statewide ban on single-use polystyrene to protect our oceans.”
CALPIRG Students is statewide student-directed and student-funded organization at the University of California working to create a greener, healthier and more meaningful future. They have 30,000 student members and have worked for years to tackle plastic pollution to protect the oceans.