New Mass. Campaign Calls for Ban on Plastic Foam

By ecoRI News staff

Plastic pollution is choking oceans, lakes and rivers. Across Massachusetts and around the globe, the movement to reduce plastic waste is growing. Communities have adopted bans on plastic bags and other single-use plastic products, while the European Union is moving to ban plastic straws.

Building on the success of these efforts, Environment Massachusetts has launched a new statewide campaign to ban polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam. The door-to-door grassroots initiative is calling for a ban on single-use plastic food containers, a major source of ocean pollution.

Polystyrene is one of the worst and most common types of plastic, and much of it ends up in waterways, where it can harm wildlife.

“Nothing that we use for a few minutes should pollute our oceans for centuries,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts.

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, but instead breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics which are ingested by animals and eventually humans. A floating patch of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean is about 57 times the size of Massachusetts.

From now through August, canvassers with Environment Massachusetts and affiliated organizations in 22 states are planning to knock on more than 1.2 million doors and talk with nearly 700,000 people about the harmful effects of plastic pollution.

Environment Massachusetts is advocating for a statewide ban on cups and takeout containers made from polystyrene. Seventeen environmental and civic organizations in Massachusetts have signed a letter supporting a ban on polystyrene cups and food containers.

Environment Massachusetts is also supporting legislation to ban single-use plastic bags across Massachusetts. This bill was approved by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in February, and is now sitting before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Already, 79 cities and towns in Massachusetts have approved local policies restricting the use of plastic bags, and 29 municipalities have adopted regulations on polystyrene.

“With the many safer alternatives that exist today, we don’t need polystyrene, or any single-use plastic for that matter,” Hellerstein said. “We need to ban these unnecessary and harmful plastics that are harming wildlife.”