STATEMENT: Danvers’ action to ban polystyrene prompts renewed call for statewide ban

Media Contacts

Town to prohibit plastic commonly referred to as ‘Styrofoam’

BOSTON — On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, when families and friends gather from the beaches of the Cape to the lakes and rivers in the Berkshires, a policy recently adopted by Danvers means we will see less plastic pollution there soon — and reminds us that we need to do more to rid ourselves of this scourge throughout Massachusetts.

This week, according to Patch, Danvers became the latest town to ban food establishments from giving carry-out customers polystyrene containers for most food prepared on premises. The town of Needham passed a similar one the week before. Polystyrene is the only common food packaging material made from a probable carcinogen – and it’s not recyclable.

“Massachusetts has long led on local restrictions – the first one was way back in 1989 in Nantucket. But at the state level, we have not passed a single law preventing plastic pollution. We are lagging behind nearly all the other states in the Northeast,” said Clint Richmond, Conservation Chair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “Danvers now makes the total 64 municipalities addressing polystyrene, and we’d like it to be all 351.”

A bill to ban polystyrene containers statewide has been introduced every session of the Massachusetts Legislature since 2013. If the current bill, sponsored by State Rep. Marjorie Decker and State Sen. Michael Barrett, does not pass in the final nine weeks in this legislative session then proponents would need to start from scratch next session. A comprehensive plastics bill led by Sen. Becca Rausch would also ban all polystyrene foodware. All these bills have received broad support from environmental and civic organizations across the Commonwealth. 

“Much like plastic pollution floods our waterways, it seems like in recent years, studies showing that plastics are damaging our health and environment are flooding our inboxes — including a recent one from the EPA,” said MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz. “It’s clear Bay Staters want action to reduce plastic pollution. As we enter this holiday weekend, let’s renew our commitment to making our state cleaner and more sustainable and push for a statewide law to get to the Governor’s desk.” In September, expressing her concerns around plastic pollution, Governor Maura Healey issued an Executive Order banning state government from purchasing single use plastic bottles, to wide approval from the Commonwealth.