City of Berkeley receives Dr. Teng-Chung Wu Award for pollution prevention

From left to right: Jesse Arreguín, Sophie Hahn.

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On Wednesday, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn accepted the 2020 Dr. Teng-Chung Wu Award for pollution prevention on behalf of the city of Berkeley.

The award, which recognizes innovative and effective pollution prevention strategies, was presented to the city of Berkeley for its Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance, according to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board website. The legislation, which was drafted by Hahn and passed by the City Council in 2019, curtails the use of single-use plastics such as disposable lids and straws, according to a press release from Hahn’s office.

“I couldn’t be prouder to accept this honor with Mayor Arreguín on behalf of the City of Berkeley,” Hahn said in an email. “What we do in Berkeley makes a difference here, and is often taken up elsewhere. I am gratified that Single Use Disposables is striking a chord across the globe.”

With the implementation of the ordinance, Berkeley aims to help businesses shift toward sustainable and environmentally friendly foodware as part of the city’s Zero Waste Goal, according to the press release.

The passage of the Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance is part of the city’s effort to use “minor behavioral change” in order to positively impact the environment at large, Arreguín said in an email.

Lorien Fono, executive director of Bay Area Clean Water Agencies, or BACWA, commended Berkeley for its efforts in minimizing pollution within the Bay Area. BACWA is an association of five of the largest San Francisco wastewater treatment agencies that aims to protect the Bay Area environment by uniting with state, federal and nongovernmental associations, according to its website.

“(The Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance) is a groundbreaking ordinance on preventing the disposal of single-use plastics into the environment,” Fono said. “A lot of single-use plastics become litter and wash into the bay. They damage wildlife and break down into microplastics.”

Autumn Cleave, committee co-chair of the Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group, echoed these sentiments, saying that Berkeley’s anti-pollution legislation stood out in its intention to make a “big impact.”

The Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group, a committee within BACWA, focuses on community outreach and education related to pollution prevention.

“Berkeley is a gold standard when it comes to protecting the environment,” Cleave said. “It was not surprising to hear that Berkeley was up for the award. I think the next steps for Berkeley and for other cities is implementation of the legislation. I hope other Bay Area cities are able to follow suit.

Contact Samantha Lim at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sssamanthalim.