AUGUSTA, Maine -- Gov. Janet Mills has signed the first statewide foam ban in the country into law. Beginning January 1, 2021, LD 289 prohibits the sale of disposable food service containers made in whole or in part by polystyrene -- commonly referred to as Styrofoam. While several other states have similar bills moving through their legislature, Maine is the first to put the law on the books. Maine will serve as an example for other states to follow.
Polystyrene foam is one of the worst forms of plastic pollution because it never fully degrades and is not recyclable in Maine. A recent study found that of all the polystyrene and other plastics ever made, 79 percent are currently in landfills or in our rivers, lakes and oceans. Scientists have found plastic fragments in literally hundreds of species, including 86 percent of all sea turtle species, 44 percent of all seabird species and 43 percent of all marine mammal species. Polystyrene breaks down easily in the environment, and pieces of microplastic have even been found in shellfish such as scallops, oysters, mussels and clams. It is estimated that seafood eaters consume up to 11,000 microplastic particles every year.
Environment Maine’s director Carissa Maurin issued the following statement:
“Today, Maine has made history by becoming the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic foam. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our rivers and oceans, from the Kennebec River to the Gulf of Maine, for centuries -- especially when there are alternatives.
“Last summer, Environment Maine staff knocked on doors from Bangor to Kittery, spoke with over 19,000 Mainers face-to-face about our campaign to put Wildlife over Waste by banning single-use polystyrene cups and containers, and collected 7,800 petition signatures in support of this effort.
“Environment Maine and our members are proud of our elected officials and Gov. Janet Mills for sealing the deal and signing our first-in-the-nation foam ban into law. We’re excited to see several other states follow our lead.”
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization committed to defending our environment through independent research, tough-minded advocacy and spirited grassroots action.