Pennsylvania lawmaker calls for ban on polystyrene food containers

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A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that would mean no more plastic foam coffee cups and takeout food containers at your favorite restaurant.

State Rep. Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery) says his proposal, House Bill 627, would prohibit food establishments from using single-use polystyrene containers for prepared foods.

Briggs said polystyrene can take hundreds of years to decompose.

“In the meantime, it clogs our local waterways and poses a threat to birds and marine life,” Briggs said in a statement. “My legislation would mean less of this material ends up in our waterways and in our landfills, and it would help us to reduce our overall impact on the world around us.”

Briggs said microplastics have been found in birds and fish, and last year were found in human stool samples for the first time, leading to questions about the impact on human health.

“Every day, we are reminded that our disposable society is creating a growing waste problem. It’s time to change the way we live and think,” Briggs said. “We have to do everything we can to keep our air and water clean, and that includes encouraging the use of materials that are more naturally biodegradable and have less of an impact on our environment.”

An economic impact analysis by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association last year concluded that a polystyrene ban would impact the state’s economy by eliminating 4,000 jobs, nearly $240 million in labor income, and over $1 billion in overall total economic output.

The association said a polystyrene ban would also impact the food service and retail industry, which would have to pay for more expensive products and compliance costs.

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