On May 8, Oregon enacted S.B.543 which bans takeout food containers made with polystyrene (plastic foam) and PFAS “forever chemicals.” Oregon joins eight other states that have outlawed the use of polystyrene takeout food containers. Oregon was one of at least nine states in 2023 considering polystyrene bans and one of 33 states considering legislation to reduce the use of PFAS chemicals.
Why S.B.543 matters
Food containers made of polystyrene foam and PFAS degrade the natural environment and put humans at risk of ingesting toxic chemicals. Polystyrene foam is a major contributor to the plastic pollution crisis due to its inability to be recycled easily, leaving the vast majority to break down into small pieces and then enter the environment or be consumed by wildlife. PFAS, which are used in a variety of products, are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally and are present in the bloodstreams of over 98% of Americans, likely putting many at risk of negative health outcomes.
Key Components of the Bill
S.B.543 has three central provisions to limit the environmental and health impacts of polystyrene and PFAS:
- Food vendors will be prohibited from using polystyrene foam to disperse prepared food to consumers.
- All Oregonians will be prohibited from selling or distributing polystyrene foam containers or packaging peanuts, with some exceptions.
- All Oregonians will be prohibited from selling or distributing foodware containers containing intentionally added PFAS chemicals.
The primary Senate sponsors of S.B.543 are Oregon State Senators Janeen Sollman and Michael Dembrow. The primary House sponsors are Oregon State Representatives Maxine Dexter and Tom Andersen.
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