Mayor Proposes To Ban Reuse Of Cardboard Coffee Sleeves

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That cardboard sleeve you wrap around your morning coffee could present a threat to your health, says Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean.

She said she has received a "rash" of complaints that coffee shops throughout Berkeley have been reusing disposable coffee-cup sleeves, posing a risk to patrons.

Dean will ask the City Council Tuesday to look into banning the practice if it proves to be a public health hazard.

"You never know anymore about the infectious diseases that are going around these days," Dean said.

If the council passes Dean's proposal, it will ask City Health Officer Poki Namkung to make a formal recommendation on the matter.

Dean said that while she does not "personally like the idea of (reusing coffee sleeves)," she will accept whatever conclusion Namkung reaches.

Namkung said she has not decided the exact recommendation she will make if asked. But she said yesterday that the sleeves do not likely spread disease but still raise concerns.

"Because they're made out of cardboard, the integrity may be weakened (by reuse) causing (the cup's contents) to spill on people," she said.

Councilmember Kriss Worthing-ton was skeptical of the mayor's proposal.

"Perhaps this is her idea of an April Fools' Day joke," he said.

He compared her proposal to an earlier attempt to regulate psychics.

Cafe Strada on Bancroft Avenue is one coffee shop in Berkeley that reuses cup sleeves.

The cafe keeps stacks of used and still-folded sleeves beneath a sign reading, "Please Recycle Java Jackets."

Strada also offers its customers unused coffee sleeves near the counter.

Strada's owner, Daryl Ross, said he was unaware the practice was taking place. He said he agreed with the mayor's proposal and would end the practice at his cafe.

Noah's Bagels on Telegraph Avenue uses the same brand of coffee sleeves as Strada but does not reuse them.

"I don't understand why anyone would reuse them at all," said Noah's manager John Metz. "Maybe it's because I'm new to Berkeley."

Metz said he throws away "pretty much everything" he can.

Metz said he does not think it is a financial decision. He said each sleeve costs about "half a cent."

Customers at Strada had mixed feelings about the proposal. Some said they thought it was not necessary to worry about wasting coffee sleeves because they are recyclable.

Others said they had used the reused sleeves in the past but would stop if the city declared them a health risk.

Two customers sitting on the cafe's eastern patio were shocked and "incredulous" about the news.

"I never ceased to be amazed by the things the City Council puts on its agenda. I would use a reused (sleeve) unless it was actually dripping with filth," said UC Berkeley alumnus Morgan Mitchell.


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