The Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation worked to pass House Bill 1902, which bans the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam (commonly known as Styrofoam™) food containers by July 1, 2025. This includes foam cups and “clamshells”. VA Governor Northam signed the bill on March 18, 2021.
HB 1902 allows five years for small businesses in the state to comply with the ban on EPS foam foodware. This gives businesses plenty of time to find economical alternatives, and the COVID-19 pandemic will be history. EPS foam (resin number 6) is not economically feasible to recycle as it has little to no value and high contamination from food residue. New York City’s Dept of Sanitation has done extensive research on the recyclability of EPS foam and found that, in the eight largest recycling programs in North American that collected EPS foam, none were recycling EPS foodware. EPS food containers pose a human health risk, as they can leach small amounts of the toxin styrene when they come into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils, and acidic foods.
The Chapter worked with other groups, including, the Virginia Conservation Network, Environment Virginia, and Lynnhaven River NOW. The Chapter shared an action alert, and staff testified at a hearing on Jan 13, 2021.