.County Cup Fee Has Gone into Effect

Beverages—not including those in reusable cups—purchased in unincorporated Santa Cruz County now have a 25-cent fee tacked onto the price

Starting today, anyone purchasing a beverage in the unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County—and who didn’t bring their own reusable cup—will notice a 25-cent fee tacked onto the price.

That is due to the county’s new disposable cup fee, which was created to reduce the amount of single-use cups for hot and cold beverages going into landfills.

Approved in November 2019, the fee was delayed during the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid adverse impacts on local businesses.

“Santa Cruz County is a leader in the efforts to reduce the flow of plastics and other disposable products into the environment,” said County Supervisor Zach Friend in a press release. “This is a common-sense measure that should help reduce the 5 million disposable cups that are thrown away each year in our county while raising funds for essential environmental clean-up programs in our area.”

The profits from the fee were originally slated to go to the businesses. Measure C, approved on June 7 by more than 69% of voters, mandates that the fee will be evenly split between the businesses and the county’s general fund after Jan. 1, 2023.

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The cities of Watsonville and Santa Cruz have their own fees, charging 10 cents and 25 cents, respectively.

The ordinance impacts both permanent and temporary businesses, food trucks, events and other events where beverages are served. 

Sellers may not waive or absorb the cup fees. 

The fees will be identified on receipts, and customers must be notified of the fee on menus.

Under the ordinance, customers may bring reusable cups, and retailers must accept them unless the container is cracked, chipped or corroded. Retailers may also reject the cups if they are too big, too dirty or damaged or are made from inappropriate material.

For information, email [email protected] or call 454–2160.

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