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Reusable Roundtable: Barriers and Opportunities in Retail Health Code

Do you buy in bulk to reduce single-use packaging? Use reusable produce bags and refillable containers? Did you know that Oregon’s Health Code actually does not allow for consumer or store-owned reusable containers? That's right, crazy as it sounds the reuse culture that many of us have participated in our entire lives has apparently happened under the radar of the health code. Join us to hear from small businesses and Oregon leaders in waste reduction on opportunities and challenges establishing “legal” reuse systems and consumer opportunities for reusables under Oregon, and Federal, Health Code.

The event is hosted by Surfrider Foundation and facilitated by Senator Sollman, both of which are participating on a subcommittee of Oregon Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety Advisory Committee that is exploring rule changes to the state’s health code to better enable reusable containers. The purpose of the event, sponsored by Environment Oregon and Oceana, is to share information on the current process but also to gather feedback and hear important stakeholder interests from small business stakeholders actively operating in the reuse and zero waste retail space.

Speakers include (more TBA):

- Senator Janeen Sollman, OR District 15
- Charlie Plybon, Oregon Policy Manager, Surfrider Foundation
- Brit Snipes & Ryan Knowles, Owners, The Realm Refillery
The OR Dept of Agriculture and OR Dept. of Environmental Quality will join a facilitated Q&A at the end of the event.

In 2018, the Department of Environmental Quality published a report showing that the four attributes of packaging materials that are popularly considered sustainable are in fact rarely if ever a better option than reusables. Yet, nearly 1 trillion disposable food service products are used each year in the United States. Fortunately, there’s a new reuse economy emerging for food service with the potential to completely disrupt the disposable food-service paradigm, increase food accessibility and reduce waste and plastic pollution. While many obstacles remain in reducing packaging and increasing sustainability, Oregon’s health code should not remain as yet another barrier, but rather enable safe, practical reuse systems. Join us to learn how we’re going to get there.

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