Our addiction to plastic is responsible for swirling, country-sized gyres of plastic waste in our oceans and overflowing landfills in our country’s interior. This pollution is damaging ecosystems, endangering public health and worsening climate change.
The two bills that passed out of the Oregon legislature will help Oregon eliminate toxic and wasteful products, shift away from our throwaway culture and build a future where we produce less waste:
- Foam-Free Oregon, Senate Bill 543, will phase out some of the most wasteful single-use plastic products — polystyrene foam food containers, packing peanuts and coolers. The bill also prohibits the use of PFAS, the toxic substances nicknamed “forever chemicals” because of their longevity, in food packaging starting January 1, 2025.
- Enabling Reuse, Senate Bill 545, instructs the Oregon Health Authority to update the state’s health code to allow restaurants to provide sanitary and safe reusable container options to their customers. Shifting from single-use to reusable containers is an important way we can reduce waste, and this bill will make it easier for Oregon businesses to do so.
For years, we’ve knocked on doors to build support from Oregonians to help push our state to get rid of some of the most wasteful single-use plastic products that we really don’t need, like polystyrene foam containers. Tens of thousands of Oregonians made their voices heard with elected officials and urged state leaders to take action to put wildlife over waste.
All of this support, combined with the hard work of a big coalition of environmental and public health advocates and stellar legislative champs, made it possible for us to get to this point.
“Products that have a ‘forever’ impact on our planet, like polystyrene foam, which doesn’t biodegrade, and PFAS forever chemicals that build up in our bodies and environment, should be eliminated,” said Senator Janeen Sollman (SD-15). “As we move away from these wasteful and harmful plastic products, we should make it easier for Oregon businesses to offer reusable options to help make the zero waste future we are working to build a reality. I am thrilled to see both of these bills pass today and look forward to Governor Kotek signing them into law.”
“I am dedicated to working to preserve the health of our beautiful state, our wildlife and our people. Plastic pollution is harmful and we cannot recycle our way out of this significant problem,” said Representative Maxine Dexter (HD-33). “Today, with the passage of SB 543 and SB 545, we took critical steps toward prioritizing the health and beauty of Oregon above convenience by phasing out the availability of wasteful and toxic single-use plastics.”
“Nothing we use for just a few minutes should pollute the environment for hundreds of years,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, Environment Oregon’s state director. “The two bills passed by the Oregon legislature today will help Oregon eliminate toxic and wasteful products, shift away from our throwaway culture and build a future where we produce less waste. Thanks to the Oregon legislature for passing these bills. We look forward to seeing them signed into law.”