Lawmakers move to ban styrofoam food containers in Washington state

Studies suggest styrofoam products pose a threat to the environment and human health

By Leona Vaughn

WNPA News Service

Lawmakers plan to eliminate the use of styrofoam food-service products in Washington state by enacting a bill to stop its sale and distribution.

Senate bill 6213, sponsored by Senator Mona Das, D- Kent, and its companion House Bill 2429 aim to ban the sale and distribution of polystyrene products, also known as styrofoam, in the food service industry.

This bill would apply to food containers, plates, cups, packing peanuts, styrofoam ice coolers, and other food-service products. Containers for raw foods, such as eggs and meat, would be exempt.

“Our widespread use of single-use plastics and styrofoam … is unsustainable,” Das said at a recent Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee hearing. “It is time for Washington to take action.”

Styrofoam takes several years to decompose and is harmful to the environment, particularly to any wildlife that comes in contact with it.

“Birds, turtles, and other marine mammals ingest styrofoam, mistaking it as food,” said Kylee Reynolds, a student at Glenwood Elementary School. “This adds poison into the animals’ blood.”

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences cites a National Toxicology Program report that lists styrene, which is present in styrofoam products, as a likely carcinogen.

Concerns were expressed over the ban by individuals who feared the loss of jobs that would result from passing the bill.

“SB 6213 would effectively eliminate the 28 full-time, skilled workers we have employed in Tumwater and some of the employees at our Lacey distribution center,” said Kathy Warren, human resources manager at Dart Container.

The legislation continues to move forward within the Senate and will be put into effect later this year if it’s passed.

“My generation has the right to grow up on a planet that is not being poisoned,” said Madison Decrescenzo, a student from Glenwood Elementary.

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