The Rise of Bans on Polystyrene in the US

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Feb 2024

The Rise of Bans on Polystyrene in the US

For decades, polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, has been a ubiquitous presence in our takeout containers and packing materials. However, the tide is turning as concerns about its environmental impact lead to a growing wave of bans across the United States.

Why Ban the Foam?

Polystyrene is a major contributor to plastic pollution. It’s not biodegradable, meaning it can take hundreds of years to break down, often fragmenting into microplastics that harm wildlife and pollute our ecosystems. These microplastics can even end up in our food chain, posing potential health risks.

The Ban Movement Gains Momentum

The movement to ban polystyrene foam is gaining significant traction. As of April 2024, 11 states, including California, Maryland, and New York, have enacted legislation to ban this material. Additionally, Washington, D.C., and two US territories have similar bans in place. Many cities and counties have also implemented local bans.

What’s the Impact?

The bans on polystyrene foam are a positive step towards a cleaner environment. They encourage businesses to switch to more sustainable alternatives like paper, compostable containers, or reusable options. This shift can significantly reduce plastic waste generation and its negative consequences.

Is There a National Ban Coming?

Currently, there’s no federal ban on polystyrene foam in the US. However, there’s a proposed bill in Congress called the “Farewell to Foam Act” that aims to establish a nationwide ban on specific polystyrene products used in food service. The growing number of state and local bans suggests increasing public support for such a measure.

What You Can Do

Even if your area doesn’t have a ban yet, you can be a part of the solution:

  • Support businesses that use sustainable alternatives.
  • Carry your own reusable containers for takeout.
  • Contact your local representatives and voice your support for a ban.

By working together, we can create a future where single-use polystyrene foam becomes a relic of the past, paving the way for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of life.

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