Maine Becomes First State to Ban Styrofoam Food Containers

Ferlon Webster Jr. | May 3, 2019
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The state of Maine has become the first state to get rid of polystyrene items, better known as styrofoam.

The prohibition of this plastic will begin on Jan. 1, 2020 and any businesses that dare distribute this product will face the consequences of a possible $100 fine.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the LD289 bill, which states, styrofoam is a “significant contributor to environmental plastics pollution,” according to a press release from her office. 

“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,” Governor Mills said. “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.”

The bill drew some support but was also criticized from those in the plastic industry. 

“Based on data from recently completed litter studies, a ban on the sale and use of polystyrene foam is unlikely to be effective in addressing litter,” Margaret Gorman of the American Chemistry Council wrote in a statement to Maine lawmakers. “This legislation fails to recognize that litter and improper waste management are independent of material type.”

“A full environmental picture is critical when comparing foodservice options,” she continued. “Polystyrene foodservice packaging uses less energy and resources to manufacture than comparable paper-based products, leaving a lighter footprint.” 

Though Maine is the first state to completely ban styrofoam food service containers, it is not the first to have a “war on plastic.” Other states like California and Hawaii have banned plastic bags while certain counties across the country have banned plastic straws.

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