Ban on Styrofoam containers fails even as lawmakers pass plastic bag ban

Credit: Thomas Yuan / CC by 2.0

Democrats were stopped short of pushing through their full environmental agenda when then Senate rejected a ban on food containers made of polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam.

Posted: Jun 11, 2019 2:40 PM
Updated: Jun 11, 2019 6:09 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Senate voted Tuesday to prohibit single-use plastic shopping bags, joining a growing movement to reduce plastic pollution in oceans.

“The majority party focuses on what is convnient for them environmentally. I am glad to see the polystyrene ban did not pass today because one one hand, it would have impacted small businesses, such as food truck owners in downtown Portland, while on the other hand, the legislature buries over 250,000 cubic feet of polystyrene underground for reconstruction projects at the Capitol. It is time for the legislature to focus on passing the budget instead of inconsequential bills such as this one.” - Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass)

The Senate voted 17-12 to keep grocery stores and restaurants from providing such bags. Stores would still be able to offer recyclable plastic and paper bags for a 5-cent fee, something opponents said punished consumers.

The bill will now go to Gov. Kate Brown for consideration. She previously spoke in support of the measure.

Oregon would join California, New York and Hawaii in banning single-use plastic bags.

"Something we use once shouldn't be able to pollute our environment for hundreds of years," said Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat behind the measure.

Democrats were stopped short of pushing through their full environmental agenda when then Senate rejected a ban on food containers made of polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam.

Republicans were against both measures and argued that the bans stifled technological innovation. They also said lawmakers should let the free market come up with solutions to the plastic problem.

Supporters said that the bans were meant to reduce the ever-increasing amount of plastic pollution in the oceans.

Sen. Arnie Roblan and Sen. Betsy Johnson, two Democrats representing coastal areas, voted for the plastic bag ban and joined Republicans in rejecting the prohibition on Styrofoam containers.

Plastic bags and Styrofoam containers are some of the most common types of beach litter. Over 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, and the World Economic Forum projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Plastics can take hundreds of years to break down, and even then they break into smaller pieces of debris called microplastics which never degrade and can pose a threat to aquatic life.

The U.S. produced over 126 billion plastic grocery bags in 2015, according to EPA data. Only 12.8% of those bags were recycled.

Styrofoam food containers, meanwhile, are nearly impossible to recycle and only one recycling facility in the state of Oregon accepts them. Maine and Maryland approved statewide bans on the containers last month.

The bills were part of a trio of measures aimed at reducing reliance on disposable plastics, the third being a plastic straw ban that gained legislative approval in late May.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 4302

Reported Deaths: 154
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah117159
Marion97326
Washington74317
Clackamas31711
Deschutes1270
Umatilla1203
Linn1179
Polk10012
Lane773
Yamhill707
Jackson670
Benton555
Clatsop450
Jefferson440
Klamath440
Malheur320
Coos310
Douglas270
Wasco241
Josephine241
Hood River180
Columbia160
Lincoln150
Morrow120
Curry70
Union60
Tillamook60
Crook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 114733

Reported Deaths: 4217
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles560112386
Riverside7982331
San Diego7481269
Orange6474147
San Bernardino5355204
Alameda347096
Santa Clara2776141
San Francisco257043
Kern232238
San Mateo216584
Tulare189789
Imperial175129
Fresno174335
Santa Barbara164912
Contra Costa146838
Sacramento142958
Ventura115234
Kings11225
San Joaquin90834
Stanislaus74429
Sonoma5644
Monterey54510
Solano51722
Marin48314
Merced2837
San Luis Obispo2711
Santa Cruz2172
Placer2179
Yolo21124
Napa1133
Madera1062
Humboldt1013
El Dorado960
San Benito872
Butte510
Del Norte460
Sutter462
Nevada411
Shasta394
Mono371
Yuba301
Mendocino300
Lake210
Inyo201
Mariposa161
Glenn160
Calaveras150
Amador100
Siskiyou70
Colusa70
Lassen50
Plumas40
Tuolumne40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 51°
Brookings
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 50°
Crater Lake
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 45°
Grants Pass
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 48°
Klamath Falls
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 45°
Warm and dry through midweek
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events