We are working with communities & restuarants toward trash-free dining.

The ordinance, launching in Berkeley & co-authored by UPSTREAM's Policy Director, proposes to reduce disposables in dining by instituting:

1.     A ban on disposables for on-site dining;

2.     Consumer-facing charges for take-out packaging- 25 cents for a take-out cup and 25 cents for a meal in disposable food packaging (the business keeps the monies collected);

3.     A ban on fluorinated substances in take-out packaging; and

4.     A ban on plastics for straws, utensils, and stirrers, plus an “ask first policy” so these products aren’t provided unnecessarily. 


The U.S. addiction to disposables results in significant environmental impacts. Consider the disposable coffee cup addition. Lined with plastic, one hundred and twenty (120) billion paper cups are used each year in the U.S. (375 per person per year), generating 2.2 billion pounds of waste, consuming over 11 million trees, resulting in 4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, and requiring the consumption of 35 billion gallons of water to manufacture (according to Clean Water Action).  

The key to success in bringing reusables back to dining is to make it convenient for consumers. That is why UPSTREAM is putting together a think tank to design a community-wide reusable cup and container program. To ensure that it is convenient, the City Cup or Container would have to be available at every food establishment that provides take-out food and beverages in a city like Berkeley.

Having policies in place that charge consumers for disposable cups and containers will create the strong desire for food businesses to offer such a service to their customers. That’s why we are incubating and supporting policies, like the one proposed in Berkeley, that drill down on disposables in dining. We see this ordinance taking hold & spreading throughout the U.S., much like the bag bans.