Sustainability

Maine Becomes First State to Ban Styrofoam

Maine is the first state to ban the use of Styrofoam.

Maine’s House voted 87 to 51 in support of the bill, which will ban disposable foam food containers. On April 30, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed it into law.

“Maine has proven itself an environmental leader once again…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 out single-use plastics — starting with eliminating the use of unnecessary forms like plastic foam,” NRCM Sustainable Maine director Sarah Lakeman stated.

The bill faced strong opposition from the plastic industry, food service container manufacturers, and Maine tourism groups. Many argued polystyrene is an economical way to keep food from spoiling.

The new law aims to trim harmful foam pollution that threatens the health of people, wildlife, and the environment. According to the National Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), plastic foam food containers are among the top 10 most commonly littered items in the U.S. Polystryeme cannot be recycled in Maine. More than 256 million disposable foam cups, plates, and bowls are used every year in Maine.

NRCM has given public school grants to give up polystyrene foam trays. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2021.