Maine is the first state in the United States to implement a ban on polystyrene food and beverage containers.

Maine became the first state in the nation to ban polystyrene food and beverage containers. The new law prohibits the sale or distribution of these disposable containers starting January 1, 2020.

Polystyrene containers, which include the trademarked Styrofoam brand, are a significant contributor to environmental plastics pollution, Maine Governor Janet Mills’ office said.

“Due to their light weight, they are easily windblown during waste handling processes. They then break down into microplastics, carrying toxins when ingested by wildlife where they eventually make their way into the nation’s food supply,” her office said. Mills added that polystyrene cannot be recycled like other products, which is why several municipalities across the state had already taken steps to ban it.

The law applies to service ware that includes containers, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, sleeves, and stirrers. There are some exemptions for food establishments, however. One is in an emergency for the “immediate preservation of public health or safety.” Another applies to containers that customers bring to the establishment. A third exemption involves containers that the business purchased prepackaged at wholesale.

Once the ban in Maine goes into effect next year, a violation will be subject to a fine with a maximum of $100, according to the bill’s amendments.

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