The Oregon Senate Banned Foam Food Packaging

A measure that would prohibit prepared food vendors from using foam containers, which take millennia to degrade, was approved by the Oregon Senate on Monday(April 3, 2023). Polystyrene takeaway cartons, often known as Styrofoam, a trademarked brand, were outlawed by Senate Bill 543 with bipartisan support (20–9). The House will now consider it.

“Polystyrene is a threat to the health of our communities and our land,” said Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, a chief sponsor of the bill. “This is a step towards a more sustainable and mindful approach to consumption and a commitment to preserving the health, beauty, and diversity of Oregon for generations to come.”

The Oregon Senate Banned Foam Food Packaging

The 1930s saw the beginning of commercial production of polystyrene, a plastic made from petroleum. Environmentalists have targeted non-biodegradable substances for decades. The production of polystyrene was ranked as the fifth-largest source of hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1986.

They also contribute to littering, and the foam may disintegrate into small fragments harmful to animals and rivers. Vendors may substitute paper cups and cardboard food containers in places where the containers are prohibited.

If enacted, the legislation would take effect in 2025 and apply to various food service establishments, including restaurants, delis, and food trucks and carts. For infractions, food providers might be subject to a daily fine of up to $100.

Sen. Brian Boquist, a Democrat from Texas, was one of the nine senators who voted against the bill. Sen. Art Robinson (R-Cave Junction) criticized the legislation as another instance of government overreach into the private sector.

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“Here we go again,” Robinson said in a statement explaining his vote. “Another small requirement. We are now deciding what disposable containers restaurants may use.”

In Oregon, communities, including Portland, Ashland, Eugene, Florence, Lincoln City, Medford, Milwaukie, Newport, and Silverton, have approved local legislation banning polystyrene foam food ware. Washington, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Virginia are just a few of the states that have approved legislation regulating the use of polystyrene.

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