Man signing papers
Photo courtesy Dreamstime

Washington state bans polystyrene, limits single-use plastic at restaurants

Gov. Jay Inslee signs bill to limit single-use plastic.

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Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill May 17 that will limit the single-use plastic across the state. Introduced by Sen. Mona Das, Washington’s SB 5022 bans the manufacture, sale and distribution of certain expanded polystyrene (EPS) products. This includes packing peanuts, foam plastic coolers and dinnerware, according to the bill. 

According to a press release by Oceana, a group focused on ocean conservation, the bill also requires dining establishments to omit single-use plastic utensils, straws, cold-beverage cup lids and condiment packaging unless requested by customers. This applies to dine-in, takeout or delivery. 

Oceana says only 9 percent of the plastic generated is recycled after use.

“Washington demonstrated its leadership in the fight against the growing plastic pollution crisis threatening our environment, health and future,” says Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s plastics campaign director. “Washington residents will now be able to skip much of the unnecessary and previously unavoidable single-use plastic that accompanies their meals.”

The legislation also establishes postconsumer-recycled-content standards for plastic beverage bottles, personal care products, home cleaning products and trash bags.

The passage of SB 5022 makes Washington the first state on the West Coast and seventh state overall to ban polystyrene foam food containers. Washington is also the first state to ban foam plastic coolers.