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Berkeley requires restaurants to charge 25 cents for disposable cups

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Trash is a major problem in our oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here's how long it takes for some of the most common types of trash to decompose — including straws, plastic bags and balloons.

UPDATE: The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass the ordinance requiring restaurants to charge 25 cents for disposable cups, reported The Associated Press.

Customers who want to leave a cafe in Berkeley, California, with a drink in hand may soon have to bring their own cups from home — or pay a mandatory 25-cent tax for a disposable cup.

Berkeley’s city council is set to vote Tuesday on the Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance, which would force restaurants, cafes and other drink sellers to charge customers 25 cents for each disposable beverage cup they need, according to a news release from the advocacy group Break Free From Plastic, which supports the proposal.

“The idea that we can just use stuff and recycle it and it’ll be rosy on the other end is just not the reality,” Councilwoman Sophie Hahn said last year as she rolled out the proposal, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We simply have to change our relationship with disposable food ware and ultimately all disposable items.”

Other provisions in the ordinance require all dine-in foodware to be reusable and would make sure takeout foodware is compostable, according to Break Free From Plastic. The Chronicle reports that customers hoping to carry out food would also have to pay 25 cents for each container, with restaurants funneling the money raised into buying “more environmentally friendly food ware.”

Berkeley’s aim is to have zero waste by 2020, East Bay Express reports. And according to Berkeleyside, the city is already “diverting 75% of all city-generated waste from landfills.”

But not everyone loves Hahn’s proposal that’s intended to help Berkeley meet that goal, especially when it comes to the cup charge.

Walk around with a cup all day long? No way,” Clifford Hobson, who works in Berkeley, said in an interview with CBS.

Coffee shops like Starbucks already encourage customers to bring in cups from home by slashing prices for those who do.

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Hahn told the TV station her aim is to go a step further and spur a “behavior change to get people from a throw-away mentality to a reuse mentality.”

California and some other places around the United States already charge for bags at grocery stores to discourage people from thoughtlessly using plastic. Hahn has said this proposal — including the 25-cent charge — is intended to have a similar impact.

“There’s actual data that shows that is the amount necessary to change behavior,” Hahn told CBS.

The ordinance — if approved — will go into effect next year, CBS reported.

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