Although it is opposed by the plastics and packaging industry, the EPS ban enjoys support from environmental groups and the Association of Oregon Recyclers. | Wk1003 Mike/Shutterstock

Oregon lawmakers sent the governor bills that ban polystyrene food service ware and allow restaurants to serve food in their customers’ reusable containers.

The legislature on April 26 gave a final vote in favor of Senate Bill 543, which prohibits food vendors from offering polystyrene foam food containers and bans foam packing peanuts. The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2025, also prohibits distribution of foodware containers with intentionally added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl chemicals. 

SB 543 passed the House of Representatives on April 26 in a 40-18 vote. The Senate had approved it on April 3 with a vote of 20-9. 

Separately, legislators passed Senate Bill 545, which paves the way for restaurants to allow customers to use their own containers for food. The bill directs the Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules, which will take effect by June 30, 2024, for the use of reusable containers. For the purposes of the bill, a “restaurant” is defined as a place where food or drink is prepared for consumption by the public, whether at an on-site dining room or taken to go. 

The Senate passed that bill with a 19-8 vote on March 15, and the House approved it with a vote of 39-17 on April 26. 

Both bills have been sent to Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek. 

The bills were supported by a number of environmental groups, as well as the Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR), which said the bills will reduce waste and protect human health. 

The plastics and packaging industry opposed the expanded polystyrene (EPS) ban, calling on legislators to hold off taking action on EPS until after the state implements its recycling modernization act, which overhauls the recycling system by incorporating extended producer responsibility principles, among other changes.

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