OLR Research Report


October 3, 2003

 

2003-R-0707

BANNING STYROFOAM

By: Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst

You asked what the Maine and New York legislatures have done to eliminate the use of Styrofoam (polystyrene foam) packaging and products. We have also provided background on Connecticut's law.

SUMMARY

Maine law prohibits the use of polystyrene foam by food services serving at state and local government facilities and in certain packaging. New York, in 2003, considered legislation to prohibit the use of polystyrene foam by state concessionaires and as packaging material. The New York bills were referred to the Environmental Conservation Committee, where similar bills have died since the early 1990s. Polystyrene is not bio-degradable and clogs land fills, according to advocates of the New York bills.

Connecticut law allows towns to prohibit the sale or use of polystyrene packaging products unless vendor, commercial, or retail users can prove that they are actively recycling the material (the law exempts towns that had bans before October 1, 1989 and March 15, 1990 from the recycling exception). It also prohibits (1) the sale of polystyrene foam made with a controlled substance (i.e., one that depletes the ozone layer) and (2) the state from buying anything packaged in or made of polystyrene foam that was made using a controlled substance (CGS 22a-229 and 22a-194a and g). Attachment 1 is copies of these laws.

MAINE

Maine law prohibits food services that serve individual food portions or beverages at state and political subdivision facilities (including most schools but excluding certain elderly food services) or functions from using polystyrene foam containers unless the food service recycles the containers after use (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 38, 1652). Maine prohibits the sale of polystyrene foam sheets or boards that were made with any fully halogenated chlorofluorocarbon that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found to be ozone-depleting (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 38, 1603). It also prohibits the use of polystyrene foam containers for selling baitfish (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 12, 7606). Attachment 2 is copies of these laws.

NEW YORK

Assembly Bill 4502 is similar to Maine's law in that it would prohibit the use of polystyrene foam packaging by state concessionaires in state buildings and on state grounds (prior legislative history shows similar bills have been proposed and died since 1993). Assembly Bills 4271 and 4878 prohibit the use of polystyrene foam as packaging material (prior legislative history shows similar bills have been proposed and died since 1995 and 1993 respectively). Attachment 3 is copies of the proposed legislation.

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