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County Set to Ban Coffee Carrier Trays

A proposed ordinance would ban coffee carrier trays such as this one, caught in the wind against an Alameda fence. (Action Alameda News)

A proposed ordinance would ban coffee carrier trays such as this one, caught in the wind against an Alameda fence. (Action Alameda News)

Hot on the heels of a plastic bag ban, the county is now set to tackle another source of environmental waste and urban blight: coffee carrier trays.

County sources close to the matter, but who insisted on not being named as they are not authorized to speak to the media, told Action Alameda News that an ordinance is being drawn up that would require coffee, mocha and latte drinkers who buy two or more drinks at a time to bring their own reusable carrier trays to the coffee shop, or have to pay for a reusable tray at the point of purchase.

Starbucks already offers reusable coffee cups modeled after their ubiquitous white and green paper carry-out cups.

The problem with the carrier trays, our source says, is the presence of Biphenyl Siphonitol (BS), an inexpensive substance used to make the carriers lightweight, but sturdy enough to hold four Venti-size Hazelnut Frappuccino blended beverages. The trace elements of BS in the carrier trays can leach into groundwater from landfills, or when the trays are discarded on the roadside, run straight into rivers creeks and the bay. Pure BS can be lethal.

Additionally, recyclers say the oddly shaped trays can gum up their machines, and are difficult and expensive to recycle, as there are few uses for extracted BS.

Under the planned ordinance, caffeine and sugar-syrup addicts would have to bring their own reusable canvas or laminated plastic carrier trays to area coffee houses when they want two or more caramel macchiatos, peppermint hot chocolates or iced-coffee beverages.

The ordinance would go into effect in April of next year.

Asked about the proposal, local office manager Edna Throckmarton, exiting Starbucks at Atlantic and Webster with a full mixed tray of Tazo Green Tea and Java Chip frappuccinos, told Action Alameda News, “If the big corporations won’t stop the spread of BS, we’ll need government to legislate.”

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