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Olympia, Wa. -- Taking an important step to address the plastic pollution crisis, Washington’s Senate and House concurred on a bipartisan bill Monday that aims to ban many kinds of polystyrene -- commonly referred to as “Styrofoam” -- food containers and increase recycled content in packaging.
Following a concurrence in the state legislature, the bill will now go to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk to be signed into law. Once signed, Washington will become the seventh state in the country to ban polystyrene foam takeout containers; it will become the fourth state, following New York, New Jersey and Virginia, to pass a polystyrene ban in the last 13 months.
The bill bans polystyrene bill peanuts, coolers and foodware; requires businesses to provide single-use utensils, cups, lids and condiments only upon customer request; and ensures that plastic beverage bottles, household cleaning and personal care bottles, plus trash bags, contain minimum levels of post-consumer recycled content.
Prior to the vote, partner organization Environment Washington talked to tens of thousands of Washingtonians about plastic pollution and polystyrene, generating over 100 activist phone calls and signing on 90 restaurants in support of a ban on polystyrene.
In response, Alex Truelove, U.S. PIRG Zero Waste Program director, and Mandy Apa, campaign associate for Environment Washignton, issued the following statements:
“Polystyrene foam containers are among the most common, harmful and non-recyclable plastic products on the market,” said Truelove. “Getting rid of foam and requiring other polluting products upon request will encourage less waste and more reuse.”
Apa added, “Washington’s ocean habitats, waterways and wildlife are among the state’s most important treasures. By taking action to stop this dangerous single use product, our leaders have chosen to put the planet over plastic. Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our planet for generations to come.”
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