Flickr / romana klee
became the first state to ban food containers made of polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam, on April 30 when Gov. Janet Mills signed legislation sponsored by State Rep (D) Stanley Zeigler.
The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, which gives restaurants, grocery stores, and other establishments ample time to find sustainable alternatives.
The new law doesn’t target all forms of styrofoam — only food containers. That means that some uses of styrofoam as packaging will still be allowed.
Throughout the US, bills banning types of styrofoam have become popular in recent years because of the material’s lack of recyclability and its outsized impact on the environment. The Natural Resources Council of Maine said in a statement that styrofoam is among the 10 most polluted types of plastic and people in the state use 256 million pieces of the material each year.
Gov. Mills stressed the environmental harm caused by styrofoam in a press release and said that the ban was long overdue, noting that at least 14 towns has already banned it on a local level.
“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,” she 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.”