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Banning styrofoam containers included in ‘Zero Waste PA’ bills

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A package of bills unveiled in the Statehouse Wednesday are aimed at improving the environment. If the bills were to pass, Pennsylvanians could see a lot less one-use plastic available in the state.

You can stop by almost any restaurants, most are serving straws and leftovers are put in styrofoam containers.

"These are convenient for us and also for the customer," said Giacomo Mazzone, Ciervo's owner. "They're cheap that's why we have them."

The package of bills unveiled are being called 'Zero Waste PA' and would ban restaurants like Ciervo's from using styrofoam containers or cups, along with plastic straws.

The goal of these bills is to make restaurants use biodegradable products, so items like styrofoam aren't used once and then headed straight for a landfill.

"For the future we have to do it," said State Rep. Tim Briggs. "The landfills are getting full, the oceans are getting full of litter."

In total 13 bills are part of this package. They include:

  • Prohibiting food establishments from using polystyrene containers to distribute prepared foods. (Rep. Tim Briggs)
  • Dissuading litterers and illegal dumpers by increasing the fines and penalties for those caught illegally throwing away their garbage (Rep. Donna Bullock)
  • Prohibiting establishments from offering plastic straws except upon the customer’s request. (Rep. Mary Jo Daley)
  • Increasing the disposal fee for municipal waste landfills from $4 per ton to $8 per ton to help support important conservation and environmental protection programs. (Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler)
  • Increasing the recycling fee that landfill operators pay from $2 per ton to $5 per ton on waste received at their landfills. (Rep. Mary Isaacson)
  • Authorizing counties that have recycling programs to collect a recycling and waste management fee of up to $4 per ton, to be used to create and maintain new or existing recycling programs, programs to clean up illegal dumping sites or litter, and/or programs for alternative energy. (Rep. Patty Kim)
  • Significantly diverting organic waste from our landfills and incinerators and spurring a market for organic waste composting (Rep. Danielle Friel Otten)
  • Establishing a statewide cigarette filter upcycling initiative, where a 20-cent, partially reimbursed deposit on each pack of cigarettes sold in Pennsylvania would be used for collection centers and safe reuse. (Rep. Chris Rabb)
  • Ensuring that producers of plastic packaging take responsibility for the decisions they make by requiring that they cannot sell or distribute plastic packaging in Pennsylvania unless they are part of a recycling program to take it back. (Rep. Melissa Shusterman)
  • Providing for a fee of two cents on each non-reusable plastic bag used by purchasers of consumer goods at retail establishments grossing over $1 million annually. (Rep. Brian Sims and Rep. Jared Solomon)
  • Creating a 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania. (Rep. Wendy Ullman)
  • Encouraging the use of reusable water bottles by requiring that newly constructed state buildings, as well as existing state buildings undergoing renovations to water and pipe infrastructure, to install water bottle filling stations. (Rep. Perry Warren)
  • Addressing Pennsylvania’s failing electronic waste recycling law by taking from best practices implemented in other states to make Pennsylvania’s law effective. (Rep. Mike Zabel)

More information on all these bills can be found here.

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