HB 1902, the bill to ban the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and service containers, will be heard before the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee this afternoon, Wednesday, January 13.
Now is the time for action! Let YOUR elected official know you want them to support the ban on expanded polystyrene food and beverage service containers. Make your story personal, as elected officials want to hear why their constituents support a bill.
EPS foam containers for takeout food and beverages are a major source of plastic pollution in Virginia. Made of styrene, a known hazardous substance linked to various types of cancer, EPS foam is a petrochemical derived product that is a serious concern for human health and wildlife.
Toxic chemicals from EPS foam containers can leach into food and drinks and then be ingested, especially when the food or beverage is served hot. People who work in areas with high concentrations of styrene have increased rates of cancer, neurological issues, and depression.
For low-income communities and communities of color, this concern is especially acute. Often suffering from insufficient access to grocery stores with affordable and nutritious food, these communities are forced to rely on fast food options, which are often stored in EPS containers.
The chemical industry has argued that recycling is the solution to their harmful products, but the New York City Department of Sanitation recently determined that EPS foam food containers cannot be recycled in a manner that is economically feasible or environmentally effective for New York City.
Global plastic production is projected to quadruple between 2014 and 2050. In addition, we cannot “recycle” our way out of this problem; we must find solutions to reduce plastic at the source.
Eliminating the production and consumption of single-use plastic products is an effective way to reduce plastic pollution and combat this global crisis. After the California cities of Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove banned EPS foam food containers, EPS litter on local beaches decreased by as much as 71 percent.
And it’s possible to replace many EPS food containers with a cheaper alternative. Virginians’ health, communities, and natural areas are under siege from plastics. Plastics are now found in our air, water, and soil. Recycling has been overwhelmingly shown to not be a feasible solution. We need to enact efficient waste reduction policies and encourage businesses as well as Virginians to reduce waste generation to protect Virginia residents, communities, and our environment from the scourge of plastic litter.
Write your elected official today!
Delegate Betsy Carr (District 69, Richmond) is Chief Patron of HB1902, which passed both houses of the state legislature in in 2020 session. To become law, it must be reauthorized by the 2021 Session of the General Assembly.
Throwaway Styrofoam containers are made with polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic, so it is not remotely sustainable. Just like with aluminum foil, Styrofoam does not biodegrade, meaning it just takes up space in landfills or is burned, producing greenhouse gases. There are biodegradable alternatives. Dozens of jurisdictions nationwide have banned single-use Styrofoam food containers. Virginia should join them.
This year you can also use the House of Delegates SPEAK Website to provide written testimony for bills in the House. Simply click “Bills in Committee” on the upper mid left side of the screen and then you are able to pick what committee is hearing the bill that you would like to provide a written comment for. After you click the committee, you can select the bill you would like and click “Next”. This will lead you to a form, on which you can submit your comments.
Let us know you've left written comments by sending a quick email with your submitted comments to email@example.com