Legislators, backed by activists statewide, introduce legislation to phase out plastic foam foodware

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

State legislators, backed by the Coalition for Plastic Reduction that includes more than 35 organizations, introduced legislation on Wednesday to phase out the use of single-use plastic polystyrene foam foodware. 

The EPA estimates that Americans throw away almost 70 million plastic foam cups every day. Twenty-two million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year and just over half of that ends up in Lake Michigan alone. The legislation would phase out foam foodware starting in 2024. 

“Our constituents have trusted us with the responsibility of enacting policies that protect our state’s most precious natural resources,” said State Sen. Laura Fine, chief sponsor of SB100. “Passing this legislation is necessary to lighten our environmental footprint, reduce single-use plastic pollution, and preserve our environment for generations to come.”

Plastic persists in the environment for hundreds of years. As a result, scientists have discovered plastic pollution in every corner of the globe, from mountain tops to ocean trenches, and inside human bodies.

“A vital part of building a sustainable future is eliminating non-biodegradable pollutants like foam, which create an enduring problem that future generations will have to deal with,” said state Rep. Gong-Gershowitz, chief sponsor of HB2376. “Using greener alternatives to sfoam that break down naturally is an important step forward for Illinois and helps maintain our status as a national leader on environmental stewardship.”

Already, eight states and roughly 200 cities and municipalities have enacted bans on polystyrene foam containers. 

“Lake Michigan is one of Illinois’ greatest assets. But plastic pollution is a major threat to Lake Michigan and to the people and wildlife that depend on it. We applaud Senator Fine and Representative Gong-Gershowitz for introducing legislation to phase out the use of single-use plastic polystyrene foam food ware. This bill is an important step forward in reducing plastic pollution and protecting Lake Michigan and the people and wildlife that rely on the lake,” said Andrea Densham with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

More than 30 activists with the Coalition for Plastic Reduction, from every corner of the state, converged in Springfield to build support for the legislation. 

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