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  • Press Release

ACC Calls Ban on Polystyrene Foodservice Packaging Flawed and Misguided

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2021) – Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5022 into law, which, among other provisions, bans expanded polystyrene foodservice packaging. America’s Plastic Makers had urged Governor Inslee to reject this provision through line-item veto and issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Joshua Baca, American Chemistry Council’s vice president of plastics:

The Washington state legislature included a misguided provision in Senate Bill 5022 that bans expanded polystyrene (EPS) foodservice.  The outcome will limit consumer choice and result in the use of alternative materials that can have greater impacts on the environment.

We are disappointed that Governor Inslee did not remove this provision as it will do little to protect the environment while increasing costs for small, locally owned businesses.

While we applaud the legislators’ efforts to reduce waste, banning foodservice packaging such as EPS cups and plates will be a step backward for the environment. EPS foodservice packaging typically is made with less material than alternatives (it is 90+ percent air) and has been found to use less energy and water to create. Legislators instead should focus on creating the infrastructure to recycle EPS and help create a more circular economy, where used plastics are remanufactured to make new plastics.

As Washington State recovers from the economic fallout of a debilitating pandemic, the legislature should not be picking winners and losers and passing legislation that will increase burdens for consumers, schools, hospitals, and small businesses including family-run restaurants.

Expanded polystyrene is also used throughout our nation’s economy to insulate our homes, package our meat and fish, protect us when riding our bikes and even make our surfboards. EPS packaging is playing a key role during the pandemic by helping protect much of our nation’s vaccine supply and keep it cool during transport. EPS foodservice packaging helps keep our food fresh, hot or cold and ready to eat, which helps prevent food waste, the number one material entering our landfills and a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In a nation that wastes nearly 40 percent of its food, we should be using packaging that best prevents food waste.

The legislation creates recycled content requirements for other foodservice packaging but inexplicably bans the sale of EPS.  It should be repealed.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.