Statement: Legislation to phase out plastic foam foodware advances

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

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

Legislation to phase out the use of single-use plastic polystyrene foam foodware starting in 2024 passed out of the House Energy and Environment Committee Tuesday afternoon on an 18-8 vote. 

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

The legislation is a priority for the Coalition for Plastic Reduction, a coalition of more than 35 organizations across Illinois. 

In response to the favorable committee vote, legislators and advocates said:

“Passing this bill out of committee is a good step towards ending the growing problem of non-biodegradable pollutants which will harm our communities for hundreds of thousands of years,” bill sponsor state Rep. Gong-Gershowitz said. “With many green alternatives available, there’s no excuse for forcing future generations to deal with this weighty environmental burden. I urge my colleagues to follow the committee’s lead and quickly pass this bill.”

“Lake Michigan is one of Illinois’ greatest assets. But plastic pollution puts Lake Michigan and all our waterways at risk, polluting our drinking water and harming wildlife. Phasing out single-use plastic polystyrene foam food ware is an important step forward in stopping plastic pollution at the source before it can pollute our waters. We applaud Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz for introducing HB 2376: EPA-Disposable Food Containers and urge her colleagues to support this bill,” said Andrea Densham with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

“It’s important to me to run my business as sustainably as possible,” said Brent Schwoerer, owner of Engrained Brewing in Springfield. “That’s why we’ve never used foam containers for takeout. It is time to evolve to more responsible packaging. Removing foam containers from the market levels the playing field for everyone and drives down the costs of better alternatives.”

staff | TPIN

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