Cup & Container Fee
Businesses must charge a $0.25 customer fee on disposable cups and takeout food containers
EFFECTIVE: January 1, 2024
WHO IT APPLIES TO: restaurants, food service establishments, coﬀee shops, bakeries, bars, drugstores, grocery stores
DOES NOT APPLY TO: food trucks or special events
- Businesses keep the fee revenue
- Customers on WIC, EBT, or Medi-Cal are exempt from the fee
- Fee does not apply to pizza boxes or containers provided for leftovers when dining-in
- Customers can provide their own reusable cup or takeout container to avoid the fee.
Food vendors must follow Health and Safety Code requirements to prevent cross-contamination.
- What is the purpose of the $0.25 fee?
Like the disposable bag fee at grocery stores, the $0.25 disposable cup and takeout container fee is intended to incentivize customers to bring their own reusable cup or container to avoid the $0.25 charge. Research shows that customers are more likely to bring their own reusable to avoid a fee rather than receiving a discount for bringing a reusable. The goal is to create a cultural shift to switch towards reusables to reduce the burden disposable foodware products have on our community, from impacts from litter to production and manufacturing, to waste processing.
- Is the fee per order or per container?
The $0.25 charge is per cup or container provided. If an order includes three disposable cups, the total disposable container charge will be $0.75. The goal is to reduce the use of disposable foodware, and the working group that developed the policies recommended for the fee to be associated with each item so that the customer is incentivized to bring a reusable container for each.
- Why is the disposable container fee amount $0.25?
The fee amount was decided at $0.25 to reflect the cost of the disposable cup and takeout container provided and to incentivize customers to bring their own reusable. The $0.25 amount is based off customer research that $0.25 is impactful enough to get the attention of customers to incentivize them to bring their own reusable to avoid the fee. There are also 8 other cities that require a $0.25 fee for disposable cups, so this amount is consistent with the standard amount these other cities require.
- Where does the $0.25 fee go?
Businesses collecting the $0.25 retain the fee revenue to offset the cost of the disposable container provided. Businesses have the option to adjust their prices if the cost of the item already includes the cost of the disposable cup or takeout container.
- What items does the $0.25 fee apply to?
The $0.25 charge applies to disposable cups and takeout containers provided with any prepared food or drink. Prepared food and drinks include any item prepared and packaged at the site of a food establishment, including takeout food and drinks such as a burger or coffee. The fee does not apply to items pre-packed outside the food establishment, such as a bottle of soda, or a pre-packaged sandwich. The fee does not apply to pizza boxes (since there is not a great reusable alternative available) or boxes provided for leftovers to customers dining-in. The fee also does not apply to lightweight food packaging used for takeout orders such as aluminum foil wrappers or paper food wrappers.
- How do customers on WIC, EBT, and Medi-Cal waive the fee?
Customers on WIC, EBT, or Medi-Cal are exempt from the $0.25 fee and must simply request the charge to be waived at the point of sale. If requested by the business, customers must show proof of participation in one of those programs, such as a voucher or benefits card.
- How will I know if there is a $0.25 fee?
Food establishments are required to identify the disposable takeout container and cup charge on menus, ordering platforms, and verbally disclosed to customers ordering by phone. The charge must also be identified separately and clearly on receipts provided to the customer.
- Can I bring my own container?
Yes, customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable cup and food container for takeout orders. Customers can request to utilize a reusable green box, their own takeout container, or reusable cup or mug for to-go orders. Tip: keep a couple reusable green boxes or Tupperware and reusable cups in your car to be prepared for any situation!
Businesses are required to follow California Health and Safety Codes to prevent contamination from customer-provided containers, including keeping customer-provided containers separate from the food facility’s foodware and avoiding contact between customer-provided foodware and surfaces or utensils used for food dispensing. Food establishments have the authority to not accept customer-provided foodware that appears cracked, chipped, is the wrong size, or is unsanitary. In that situation, the customer can take a disposable container and pay the $0.25 fee or choose to dine-in using reusable foodware provided by the restaurant.
- What assistance is available?
Keep Truckee Green will be conducting an outreach campaign to educate customers about new fee requirements. Signage and outreach materials will also be provided to businesses to post to notify customers of required charges.