Virginia assembly approves ban on foam to-go containers

Opponents of a polystyrene ban argue that there is no federal ban on such trays, and that the cost of a more environmentally friendly option would mean an increase from 3 cents for each container to as much as 10 cents for the alternative — an additional $290,000 to $676,000 for the public school system. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Art_rich)
Virginia state lawmakers gave final approval on a bill that will ban polystyrene food containers.

The bill was sponsored by Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond.

The ban will be phased in over four years. Larger businesses, with more than 20 locations, will have to stop using foam food containers by July 2023.

Smaller businesses will need to comply by July 2025.

An amendment, proposed by Virginia Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, D-Fairfax, was added to the bill that would also require schools, governments and nonprofits to enforce the ban in their organizations.

But the legislation will not include containers holding unprepared food. Additionally, it does not stop companies from purchasing the plastic foam containers for their own use.

This bill will bring Virginia in line with its neighbors in the D.C. region.

D.C. has had a ban on polystyrene food containers since 2016 and Maryland banned them last fall.

The Senate voted 24-15 to approve the legislation. The House vote was 57-39.

The bill now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for his signature.

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Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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