SEATTLE -- With the backdrop of the Seattle Aquarium, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday to both ban many kinds of polystyrene -- commonly referred to as “Styrofoam” -- food containers and increase recycled content in packaging. Washington becomes the seventh state in the country to ban polystyrene foam takeout containers and it will become the fourth state, following New York, New Jersey and Virginia, to pass a polystyrene foam ban in the last 14 months.
The bill goes beyond other states’ policies by banning foam peanuts and coolers in addition to foodware. It also requires businesses to provide single-use utensils, cups, lids and condiments only upon customer request; and ensures that trash bags, plastic beverage bottles and household cleaning and personal care bottles contain minimum levels of post-consumer recycled content.
Prior to the vote, U.S. PIRG and Environment America’s state partner Environment Washington educated thousands of Washingtonians about plastic pollution and polystyrene, generating more than 100 activist phone calls to state legislators and signing on 90 restaurants to support a ban on polystyrene in the last few months.
In response, Alex Truelove, U.S. PIRG Zero Waste Program director, and Mandy Apa, campaign associate for Environment Washington, 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. Washington’s landmark law sets new commonsense standards for other states to emulate.”
Apa added, “Washington’s ocean habitats, waterways and wildlife are among our state’s most important treasures. By taking action to stop the overflow of these harmful, single-use products, our leaders have chosen to put the planet over plastic. Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute the earth for generations to come.”