Styrofoam container ban bill heads to Senate, local businesses react

SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon House bill that would ban styrofoam from being used by restaurants, food trucks, and supermarkets is awaiting votes in the Senate.

The Oregon House voted Tuesday in favor of House Bill 2883, that would prohibit food vendors from using styrofoam containers in selling, offering for sale, serving or dispensing prepared food to the public.

Polystyrene or styrofoam containers are already banned in at least six Oregon cities including Medford and Ashland.

If passed, it would be the first statewide ban in the nation.

“I like the idea but I mean it’s definitely going to be an impact,” business owner of El Comal Taqueria & Grill in Phoenix, Flavio Martinez said.

“The prices are going to be at least double,” said Martinez. “To get 150 boxes, it costs you between $17 to $18.  If you did change to paper boxes, they’re going to be for 100, you’re going to be paying $30 to $35.”

Essan Cafe in Phoenix also uses the cheaper styrofoam containers as well but also keeps paper containers on hand.

“It usually costs $300 per month,” said business owner of Essan Cafe, Lanthom Inthavong said. “But if we use a different one, it would be $500 or up.”

Both restaurants say they’re looking at different alternatives.

“What I’m thinking is raising the prices a little bit,” Martinez said.

He worries if the law does change, distributors may see an opportunity.

“They are trying to get rid of those boxes, foam boxes, but I mean paper boxes are going to start going up again so we need to do something where everything works for everybody,” he said.

If passed, businesses found using Styrofoam takeout containers could face a fine of up to $250 per day.  It would take effect on January 1st, 2021.

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