AUGUSTA, Maine -- Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill last night that bans polystyrene foam -- commonly referred to as Styrofoam -- cups and containers in the state of Maine. Having passed the legislature a week ago, Maine now becomes the first state in the U.S. to have a foam ban on the books.
Polystyrene foam is one of the most commons and hazardous forms of single-use plastic. Less than 3 percent of it is recycled, and once in landfills or the natural environment, it persists for hundreds of years.
In a single year, Americans throw out 25 billion polystyrene foam cups, part of the 8 million tons of plastic that is dumped in waterways every year. A recent study found that of all the polystyrene and other plastics ever made, 79 percent currently exist in landfills or in our rivers, lakes and oceans. Pieces of plastic have been found in every corner of the planet, from Pyrenees alpine lakes to the deepest ocean trenches, ingested by sea turtles and humans alike.
U.S. PIRG’s zero waste director Alex Truelove issued the following statement:
“Maine has done something historic, becoming the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic foam. Other states, especially those with foam bans currently being considered, should seize the opportunity and follow suit.
I’m proud of our members, elected officials and of Gov. Janet Mills for leading on this issue. And I’m especially proud of our Environment Maine staff who, last summer, knocked on doors from Bangor to Kittery, spoke with over 19,000 Mainers face-to-face and collected 7,800 petition signatures in support of a statewide foam ban.
Nothing we use should for five minutes should be allowed to pollute our planet for hundreds of years. I’m happy to know that the great state of Maine agrees. To that I say, who’s next?”