Maine has become the first state to ban food containers made from polystyrene, which in most cases is not recyclable and in all cases wreaks havoc on the environment.
Governor Janet Mills signed a bill on Tuesday that will prohibit the sale of Styrofoam containers beginning on January 1, 2021, with fines for violators ranging up to $100. It also bans plastic straws in state facilities.
“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,” Mills said in a statement to CNN. “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.”
Maryland’s legislature approved similar bills in March, though the state’s Republican governor has yet to sign them. Governments in Colorado, Oregon and New Jersey are also debating bills that would seek to ban such containers, and several cities in California and New York have done it as well.
According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, more than 256 million pieces of disposable foam cups, plates, bowls, platters, and trays are used every year in Maines. Across the U.S., plastic foam food containers are one of the top 10 most frequently littered items.