Maine has brought in the country's first statewide ban on a kind of plastic that has an especially pernicious effect on the environment. Gov. Janet Mills has signed a law that bans single-use containers of expanded polystyrene foam, better known as Styrofoam, CNN reports. When the law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021, Maine businesses, including restaurants and grocery stores, will be banned from selling food and drink in Styrofoam containers. "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," Mills said in a statement to WMTW. "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."
Environmentalists say the biggest problem with polystyrene is that it is lightweight and crumbles, so it is often blown into the ocean and consumed by wildlife. "People think it breaks down, because you see it breaking in smaller and smaller pieces, but in some ways those are more harmful because they can more easily be consumed by animals and even humans," Jacqueline Savitz at the Oceana ocean conservancy group tells CBS. Maine's bill, which fines offenders $100, follows citywide bans, including one Washington, DC, introduced in 2016, the Hill reports. Maryland is expected to pass a similar ban soon, and lawmakers in Colorado, Oregon, and New Jersey are also considering Styrofoam bans. (Read more Styrofoam stories.)