Maine Becomes the First State to Ban Single-Use Foam Containers

Conservationists are celebrating a win in Maine, which just became the first state in the nation to ban single-use food and drink containers made of polystyrene.

Polystyrene, otherwise known as EPS foam or Styrofoam, has become a popular plastic used for food packaging, it’s disposal has also become a widespread problem and it’s continued to pollute our environment. It also photodegrades, breaking down into smaller pieces that never completely degrade and pose a threat to wildlife, especially in marine environments where animals mistake it for a toxic meal.

In an effort to curb the problem, Maine already banned foam food containers from state facilities and functions in the early 1990s, and several cities have adopted bans on the local level, but now it’s going even farther.

This week Governor Janet Mills signed a bill introduced by Rep. Stanley Paige Zeigler that bans single-use foam containers as of January 2021.

“Polystyrene cannot be recycled like a lot of other products, so while that cup of coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup it was in is not. In fact, it will be around for decades to come and eventually it will break down into particles, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife, and even detrimentally impacting our economy,” said Governor Mills. “That is why several municipalities across the state have already taken steps to ban polystyrene. This legislation will create consistency for businesses that operate in multiple municipalities, provide ample time to adjust to the change, promote sustainable Maine-made alternative containers, and take an important step forward in protecting our environment.”

According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), food containers made from this type of foam are among the top 10 most commonly littered items in the country, while more than 256 million pieces of disposable foam cups, plates, bowls, platters and trays are used every year in Maine. In the end, they all either end up in a landfill, or as litter.

It’s hoped the ban won’t just protect us, wildlife and the environment, but will also save money in the long run by cutting costs that are incurred dealing with this type of waste and recycling contamination.

“Maine has proven itself an environmental leader once again, this time in eliminating disposable foam containers that have become a common, costly, and deadly form of plastic pollution,” said Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Director at the NRCM. “With the threats posed by plastic pollution becoming more apparent, costly, and even deadly to wildlife, we need to be doing everything possible to limit our use and better manage our single-use plastics—starting with eliminating the use of unnecessary forms like plastic foam.”

Hopefully more areas will soon follow, and encourage more people to turn to reusable, recyclable and compostable alternatives. A similar ban was recently passed by lawmakers in Maryland, but it’s still waiting for Governor Larry Hogan’s signature, while other states including Oregon, Vermont and Connecticut are considering similar measures.

Photo credit: Getty Images

50 comments

Jennifer H
Jennifer H4 days ago

Great news. All foam needs to be banned including the "popcorn". Use cornstartch instead.

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Angela K
Angela K10 days ago

Petition already signed & shared

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Kevin B
Peter B14 days ago

Thank you

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Martha P
Martha P14 days ago

thanks for posting

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S M
S M15 days ago

Thank you Maine.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN hEARFIELD15 days ago

tyfs

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Leo C
Leo Custer15 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Sherri S
Sherri S16 days ago

Good. Now other states need to follow suit.

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Ruth S
Ruth S17 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S17 days ago

Thanks.

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