Beginning June 1, Washington Will Not Allow Foam Coolers or Takeout Cases

Beginning June 1, Washington Will Not Allow Foam Coolers or Takeout Cases

Soon, businesses will not be able to use those foam clamshell containers for takeout food anywhere in the state of Washington.

Coffee cups, plates, trays, and other containers for food and drinks made from expanded plastic will also be against the law. There are also foam coolers that can only be used once. A law that was passed by the Legislature in 2021 says that these goods can’t be sold or given away starting June 1.

A representative from Zero Waste Washington, Heather Trim, called the rules “a big deal.” “Over the years, the use of single-use plastic foodware has just gone through the roof.”

It is possible to recycle expanded polystyrene. However, the state’s Department of Ecology says that it costs a lot of money and that most home recycling programs don’t take foam. Things are made even more difficult by food residue on the cloth. Of course, when the foam does get to recycle centers, it can blow around and get on other things.

From June 1, 2024, the above-mentioned foam goods will not be able to be sold or given away in Washington. The Department of Ecology

The Washington Hospitality Association, which speaks for restaurants, said they had no opinion on the 2021 bill as it went through the Legislature and didn’t want to say anything about the limits that will start in June.

This law also said that the state couldn’t sell or give away foam packing peanuts last year.

Oceana says that at least 11 states have passed rules to get rid of expanded polystyrene foam. The environmental group is one of those asking for the material to be banned across the country. Seattle stopped letting people use foam food bags about 15 years ago. Last year, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill that is the same as Washington’s.

It’s a problem when the stuff gets up in the oceans or other places where it can’t break down for hundreds of years. Also, studies have shown that when the foam breaks up into little pieces, it can hurt animals and get into the food chain.

Rigid foam goods, like Dow’s famous Styrofoam, came out in the 1930s and 1940s. They are now mostly made with ethylene and benzene, which come from petroleum.

Expanded polystyrene is still very popular because it is strong, doesn’t weigh much, and can be used as insulation. It’s used in a lot of different things that aren’t against Washington’s law, like building materials, safety helmets, and a lot of different kinds of packaging.

Ecology says it will first offer “education, resources, and technical assistance” to businesses that break the foam ban, and it will help them if it can. A $250 fine is the least a manufacturer can get for breaking the rule. If they break it again, they could get a $1,000 fine.

Ecology says that there are many alternatives to foam food containers. They point to a guide that New York state made after its expanded polystyrene foam ban went into effect.

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