Wednesday Febuary 20th state director Carissa Maurin gave the following testimony on behalf of Enviornment Maine in support of Represenative Stanley Paige Zeigler’s bill LD 289 ”An Act To Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers’ which would require that beginning January 1, 2020, the sale or distribution in the State of disposable food service containers composed in whole or in part of polystyrene foam will be phoibited. Her testimony is as following:
“Good afternoon distinguished members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Thank you for allowing me to present this testimony. My name is Carissa Maurin and I am the State Director at Environment Maine. I am speaking today in support of LD 289, ‘An Act To Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers’.
Single-use plastics are everywhere and they’re causing serious problems. Every day people are throwing away tons of single-use cups, containers and other plastic items. Among the worst forms of plastic pollution is polystyrene foam (what most of us call Styrofoam), which never fully degrades and is not recyclable in Maine. Polystyrene and other plastics currently make up about 30 percent of the landfill volume in the United States and if they don’t end up in a landfill they wind up in our environment. Here in Maine, this is important because our fisheries are our second largest industry after tourism. Plastic in our seafood and on our beaches will have drastic environmental and economic consequences for our state. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries. That’s why we are supporting LD 289 which prohibits the sale or distribution of disposable food service containers composed in whole or in part of polystyrene foam.
In the ocean, polystyrene foam is one of the most frequently observed plastic litter, and has been found throughout the world’s oceans, including remote corners of the Arctic where plastic chemicals have even been discovered inside bird eggs. Over time, polystyrene breaks into tiny pieces known as microplastics that can absorb toxic chemicals from the environment and are easily ingested by wildlife. Scientists have found plastic fragments in literally hundreds of species, included nearly half of all seabird and marine mammal species like whales and seals that we have here in Maine. Microplastics have even been found in shellfish like scallops, oysters, and clams.
Animals that consume polystyrene are put at serious risk of injury or death. Animals that have been found to suffer harm from polystyrene include sea turtles, seabirds, and whales. Polystyrene and other plastics ingested by sea turtles can cause internal injuries, intestinal blockage, harm to swimming ability and buoyancy, and accumulation of toxic chemicals. Seabirds frequently ingest polystyrene and other plastics, which can result in injury, death, and harm to reproduction. Blubber samples taken from filter-feeding whales, which trap enormous amounts of water in their mouths during feeding, suggest that they could be consuming a harmful amount of toxic chemicals found in microplastics.
Based on a study in Portland, municipal litter cleanup costs are 17 cents to 79 cents per piece. There are no studies on polystyrene use in Maine but based on national estimates Mainers could have consumed a minimum of 256.9 million single-use polystyrene food items, not including spikes due to tourism. So even using conservative values polystyrene litter clean up cost Maine 43.5 million dollars. Litter cleanup costs the U.S. almost $11.5 billion each year.
We need to do our part to reduce the impact of plastic pollution. We simply can’t continue to produce and throw away plastic at this rate. It’s time to put our wildlife over waste and ban single-use polystyrene plastic. I urge you all to take action and lead the way on this issue by passing LD 289. Thank you for your consideration.”