Maine Bans Single-Use Foam Containers

Connector Spring 2019

Maine has banned single-use food and drink containers made from polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, becoming the first state to do so.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill, which takes effect in 2021, into law Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Environmental groups have sought such bans amid rising public awareness of throwaway plastic that accumulates in the oceans, but the Natural Resources Council of Maine said that Maine is the first state to enact a ban.

Similar legislation passed Maryland’s Legislature in April, but it’s unclear whether that state’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, will sign it.

Oregon, Vermont and Connecticut are also considering banning the containers, and dozens of communities from Berkeley, California, to New York City have already passed their own bans, some of which date back to the late 1980s. Several companies such as Dunkin’ and McDonald’s have also pledged to or have already eliminated foam cups.

In December, European Union officials agreed to ban some single-use plastics, such as polystyrene food and beverage containers, in an effort to curb marine pollution.

The law will prohibit “covered establishments” – like restaurants and grocery stores – from using polystyrene containers. Hospitals, seafood shippers and state-funded meals-on-wheels programs will be exempt.

Maine has banned foam food containers at state facilities and functions since 1993. Some communities in the state had also already banned polystyrene.

The legislation faced strong opposition from the plastics industry, food service container manufacturers and Maine business and tourism groups, which argued polystyrene is economical and better than other materials at keeping food from spoiling.

The plastics industry also says they’re taking voluntary steps to make plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or recoverable by 2030. The industry in January committed to spending $1.5 billion over five years to end plastic waste through a new nonprofit, The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, according to American Chemistry Council lobbyist Margaret Gorman.

Source: ABC News