A bill in the General Assembly that bans expanded polystyrene containers, also known as plastic foam, at all food vendors by 2025 currently is in limbo while both chambers hash out a Senate amendment rejected by the House.
House Bill 533 would prohibit food vendors, including restaurants, catering trucks and grocery stores, from serving food and beverages in plastic foam containers, plates, cups and trays. The ban does not extend to packaging of unprepared food.
Del. Betsy B. Carr, D-Richmond, is chief patron of the bill, which has two phases. First, food chain establishments with 20 locations or more would be required to phase out the plastic foam containers by July 1, 2023. The next deadline for all food vendors to eliminate use of such containers would be July 1, 2025. Carr’s bill exempts institutions such as schools and correctional facilities from the ban.
The bill passed the House (55-44) and the Senate passed it (23-13) with an amendment proposed by Sen. David R. Suetterlein, R-Roanoke. The amendment adds a reenactment clause stipulating the bill will not be enacted until it is voted on and passed again next year by the General Assembly.
The House overwhelming (99-1) rejected the amendment, and the Senate didn’t budge insisting (38-1) on the reenactment clause. As of Feb. 27, the bill was assigned to a conference committee to debate its fate.
Co-patron Del. Paul E. Krizek, D-Fairfax, said the reenactment clause is “a way to kick the can down the road.”
“I was really hoping that we had come to a good compromise,” Krizek said, in reference to the two deadlines given to vendors to stop distributing polystyrene materials.