Wildlife Over Waste

Oak Park takes steps to reduce plastic pollution

An Illinois municipality is leading by example in phasing out foam foodware.

A person throwing away a polystyrene foam cup and straw into an orange bin
Julio Lopez | Unsplash.com

Last week, Oak Park became the first municipality in Illinois to pass a polystyrene foam foodware ban. This ordinance is an important step on the road to the eventual phase out of single-use plastics and foam products. It’s 2023, and reducing single-use plastics is crucial for protecting our environment for years to come.

22 million pounds of plastic waste enter the Great Lakes every year. The amount of plastic waste that ends up in Lake Michigan is equal to around 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic bottles. Plastic debris like foam food containers not only pollute our waters, but also directly endanger wildlife that often mistake the plastic pieces for food. 

Many communities around the country have recognized this to be a huge problem, and have enacted bans on foam foodware containers. Oak Park now joins the eight states and around 200 cities and municipalities that have enacted polystyrene foodware bans to help protect their natural landscapes and wildlife. 

Congratulations to the activists and community leaders who helped get this ordinance passed!

Additionally, a piece of Illinois state legislation is currently awaiting Governor Pritzker’s signature that will ban state agencies from purchasing polystyrene foam foodware, eventually including vendors with state contracts.

“Oak Park is proud to be at the forefront of the movement to end the use of polystyrene foam foodware in Illinois. With action at the state level as well, there is momentum for the complete removal of these harmful products in the near future,” said Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman.

Oak Park’s ban and this legislation are important steps forward in eliminating single-use plastics and foam foodware in Illinois. Now is the time to keep up this momentum and work towards passing a statewide polystyrene ban.

Kamebry Wagner

Environment Illinois Conservation Intern

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