Strides are being made in the fight to protect our planet! Maine is becoming the first U.S. state to ban Sytrofoam® containers. On April 30, Governor Janet Mills signed the legislation that will take effect on January 1, 2021. While this new law doesn’t restrict the use of all forms of Styrofoam—just the use of food containers—it’s still a big step! For the next year, Maine restaurants will need to take the necessary steps to replace Styrofoam containers and move to better, more eco-friendly options. Though many have commented this could become a financial strain, the overall impact is a win for the environment and our planet’s future!
We’ve talked a little bit about the harm of Styrofoam and how it affects our environment here, but it’s important to remember just how problematic the use of Styrofoam is to our planet. Styrofoam, or polystyrene, is a plastic that cannot be recycled like other products. It can take decades to break down, meaning it sticks around longer causing harm to the environment. Many claim that it’s the most harmful form of pollution out there and has a larger impact on nature as a whole. Because it can’t break down easily, it often winds up in the oceans and being eaten by animals—causing even more problems! Styrofoam’s impact on the environment is definitely one that can’t be overlooked, and that’s why more and more people are taking action to get it banned.
While Maine is the first state to officially put this ban into action, other states are working on similar bans. Maryland’s legislature has passed a veto-proof bill also targeting Styrofoam food containers, while New York is moving toward a state-wide ban after approving one on single-use plastic bags. And, while entire states may not yet have bans in place, many cities and counties have banned the use of Styrofoam containers.
In addition, a Styrofoam alternative has been created by researchers. Made from nanocrystals of cellulose—which is a type of common plant material—this foam is made using water as a solvent, making it easier to break down.
Even companies like Igloo are looking into alternative options. With the launch of Recool, Igloo is providing its customers with a biodegradable and reusable cooler made from recycled paper and paraffin wax. It’s great to see such big companies make an effort to reduce their impact on the environment!