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Bill Clears Oregon House To Remove Styrofoam From School Lunchrooms

<p>Hermiston High students have a chicken alfredo option about once per month.</p>
Amanda Peacher

Hermiston High students have a chicken alfredo option about once per month.

Styrofoam would leave many Oregon school cafeterias under a bill that passed the House of Representatives Wednesday. Lawmakers voted 47 to 10 to phase out plastic foam by 2021. School districts that aren't sure they can make that deadline can get state permission to take longer.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, credits students at Sunnyside Environmental School who first advocated a ban on plastic foam in public schools.

"These students as a part of their school work, in a science class, did research on polystyrene, commonly known to us as Styrofoam. Well, what did they learn?" Nosse asked House members. "When Styrofoam containers are used for food, serving and storage, the chemicals in the product can leech into the food, affecting human health and our reproductive systems."

Nosse says polystyrene also constitutes more than a quarter of landfill materials in the country.

The bill would allow school districts to keep using plastic foam if they implement a recycling program.

The bill now goes to the Oregon Senate.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the name of the school.

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Rob Manning is a news editor at Oregon Public Broadcasting, with oversight of reporters covering education, healthcare and business. Rob became an editor in 2019, following about 15 years covering schools and universities in Oregon and southwest Washington as OPB’s education reporter.