- With Gov. Janet Mills' Tuesday signature, Maine became the first state in the nation to legislate a statewide ban on polystyrene foam containers. LD 289 prohibits the sale of polystyrene foam in the state effective Jan. 1, 2021.
- The ban includes packages and service ware wholly or partially made of polystyrene foam. It does not grant exemptions for meat or egg containers, but does include an exemption for containers designed to process or ship seafood. The ban also includes plastic beverage stirrers served at "a facility or function" of the state or "political subdivisions" in Maine.
- The law covers businesses and restaurants but includes exemptions for hospitals and "meals on wheels" type operations. The ban is punishable by a civil violation with a fine not to exceed $100.
Maine is one of the only states to impose statewide bans on any single-use item — California, New York and Hawaii (at the county level) also have statewide bans on single-use plastic bags. While some municipalities and counties have enacted bans on polystyrene foam and plastic bags, few states have successfully taken up the mantle.
Both houses of the Maryland legislature, which has finished its 90-day regular session, approved a statewide foam ban, but Gov. Larry Hogan has not committed to signing the bill. Hogan has two more bill signings scheduled for May, but has not yet confirmed what legislation will be included.
Polystyrene foam is seen as a significant source of plastic pollution. Mills said in a press release that the ban in her state will "take an important step forward in protecting our environment."
Not all in the industry are ready to give up on polystyrene foam recycling. Agilyx and AmSty recently announced a joint venture dedicated to recycling post-consumer polystyrene products into monomers for new polystyrene products. The venture is taking over an Agilyx facility in Oregon that processes 10 tons per day, with goals of opening a 50-ton-per-day facility on the West Coast.