Many communities have adopted ordinances that restrict the use of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food containers in order to reduce litter and waste. Due to its prevalence in our communities and lightweight nature, EPS foam has become a very common and problematic form of plastic litter. What’s more is that virtually all EPS foam in Maine is destined to become waste because it is not an economically viable recyclable commodity in this state. Use this toolkit to explore how you can require that establishments in your community provide alternatives to EPS containers that are reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable and have a comparatively lesser overall environmental impact.
Maine Becomes First in the Nation to Ban Foam Food Containers Statewide
In 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills and the Legislature passed two significant bills into law that target two top sources of plastic pollution: single-use plastic bags and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food ware. There have been a lot of questions about how the new foam food container law will be implemented, so to help Maine residents, towns, and businesses better understand what it means to them, our Sustainable ME team created this handy summary:
Goes into effect: January 1, 2021
Applies to: Restaurants, markets, nursing homes, and food trucks. No eating establishment may serve food made in whole or in part in EPS foam products.
Does Not Apply to: Food packaged out of state and sold in Maine. Maine consumers may still see meat, fish, or eggs packaged in foam.
Does Not Pre-empt Any Existing Local Policy: This means that if your town has adopted a more restrictive ordinance regarding foam, then the affected business will have to comply with both laws—whichever is more restrictive.
Below is a full list of Maine towns that currently have ordinances that ban the use of foam containers.
We will continue to update this list as more towns and municipalities pass new ordinances. If you have information about a Maine town not on this list, please email us at email@example.com.
|Maine Municipality||Date Implemented|
|Freeport||January 1, 1990|
|Portland||April 15, 2015|
|South Portland||March 1, 2016|
|Brunswick||October 1, 2016|
|Saco||October 19, 2016|
|Topsham||May 7, 2017|
|Cape Elizabeth||December 6, 2017|
|Belfast||January 1, 2018|
|Bath||April 22, 2018|
|Blue Hill||June 2018|
|Rockland||January 1, 2019|
|Rockport||January 1, 2019|
|Bar Harbor||February 14, 2019|
|Newcastle||March 1, 2019|
|Southwest Harbor||April 22, 2019|
|Camden||April 30, 2019|
|Mount Desert||May 8, 2019|
|Tremont||Will take effect on October 21, 2019|
|Bangor||Will take effect in January 2020|
|York||Will take effect on May 18, 2020|
Other Resources for Disposable Foam Ordinances
- Clean Water Action website: Contains links to a variety of information regarding EPS foam, including fact sheets and case studies.
- Surfrider website: A list of existing EPS ordinances across the US, and around the world.
- “Maine Medical Center bans EPS food containers”: MMC newsletter article explaining the decision to ditch foam food containers.
- PowerPoint presentation by BYOB Midcoast