The state is the first to prohibit businesses from using polystyrene to-go containers and other products.
Maine governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law Tuesday that officially bans the commercial use of Styrofoam across the state, according to CNN. On January 1, 2021, all restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and other businesses will be prohibited from using to-go containers made of polystyrene. Violators will reportedly face a fine up to $100.
"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," Governor Mills said in a statement to a local CNN affiliate. "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."
According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, more than 256 million pieces of disposable foam containers are used every year in the state, and plastic foam food containers are among the most littered items in the country. CNN notes that because Styrofoam easily breaks down into very small pieces, it is often mistaken for food by marine animals—and because the material absorbs toxins faster than other plastics, it can also be a threat to humans who consume seafood.
Environmentally-friendly laws are gaining momentum. While Maine is the first state to blacklist Styrofoam, Maryland has considered similar legislation while New York and California have banned single-use plastic bags. Plastic straws have been nixed by cities like Seattle as well as several major restaurant chains.
Read the full CNN writeup here.