Virginia Moves Closer to Ban Plastic Foam Containers
For the second year in a row, a bill that prohibits food vendors from using plastic foam containers is up in the air as the General assembly hashes out a Senate amendment. The Senate passed the legislation in a 21 – 15 vote. The passage came with an amendment that would not exempt nonprofits, state and local government entities and schools from the ban.
The House rejected the amendment and the Senate voted unanimously to insist on its amendment. There is a conference committee scheduled to work out the legislative differences. The measure prohibits food vendors such as restaurants, food trucks and grocery stored from packaging prepared foods in polystyrene containers. The prohibition will not extend to packaging for unprepared foods, including coolers used in food shipments or unprepared food packages, such as raw or uncooked meat, fish or eggs.
Retail food establishments with 20 or more locations are required to phase out plastic foam containers by July 2023. Other food vendors must stop using these types of takeout containers by July 2025.
The bill is a continuation of Virginia’s lawmaker’s sweeping effort to pass environmental legislation, but the COVID-19 pandemic has opened a discussion on the usefulness of single-use disposable packaging such as polystyrene to limit contamination and facilitate a shift to carry-out business.
The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, an organization for restaurants and other hospitality industries, opposes the ban. Robert Melvin, director of government affairs at the association, said the bill is “misguided” and will hurt smaller, local restaurants financially, whose businesses have taken a toll amid the pandemic. The article continues to talk about the cost to restaurants and the environmental impact of polystyrene containers.
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By David Tran, February 20, 2021 Please check additional updates.