Freeport, Maine Polystyrene Ban of 1990

Polystyrene Bans |
June 26, 2012, (MuniPoly) – Polystyrene bans are not a new thing.  Back in 1990, the City of Freeport, Maine banned polystyrene containers in its city.

The ordinance was called the “Styrofoam Ordinance” even though STYROFOAMâ„¢ is a trademarked brand of the Dow Chemical Company.

Here is one of the first ordinances banning polystyrene.


Whereas, the Council finds that:

1. Located in Maine on the shore of the North Atlantic Ocean, an
area known world-wide for its natural beauty, fish and other
wildlife, the Town of Freeport believes that it has an obligation
to maintain and preserve its special natural environment;

2. Maintenance of Freeport as litter-free as possible is important
to protect and preserve its natural environment and enhance its
quality of life for residents and visitors;

3. The United Nations Environmental Programme Diplomatic Conference
in Montreal (Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer) acknowledged the threat of chlorofluorocarbons to
the earth’s atmosphere and established international goals for
the phased reduction of the manufacture and use of specific
chlorofluorocarbon compounds (“CFC’s”). The Town of Freeport
supports international and federal efforts to reduce the
non-essential use of chlorofluorocarbons.;

4. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency reports that foam
products account for 28% of ozone-depleting potential of CFC’s.
Blowing agents used in the production of non-CFC PSF’s create
hazardous earth-level smog;

5. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued a national
municipal waste strategy calling for a 25 percent reduction in
solid waste by 1992. The strategy, titled “The Solid Waste
Dilemma: An Agenda for Action”, includes the promotion of
recycling. The State of Maine is considering how to implement
this strategy;

6. The State of Maine has banned the service of food and beverages
in polystyrene foam containers at facilities or functions of the
State or its political subdivisions effective January 1, 1990
(38 MRSA Section 1651 et seq.);

7. Readily disposable consumer plastic containers and wrappers
(including those made from polystyrene foam) are essentially not
biodegradable and as litter do not decompose over time into the
natural environment;

8. The use of readily disposable consumer plastic containers and
wrappers has increased annually and projections indicate a
significant growth in their use;

9. Plastic litter, particularly polystyrene foam, poses a threat to
the natural environment, including fish and other wildlife;

10. This Ordinance will serve the public interest by reducing the
amount of non-biodegradable waste littering Freeport as a portion
of any substitute packaging is expected to be composed of
biodegradable material in whole or in part. Polystyrene foam
litter is highly durable, buoyant, and non-biodegradable and,
therefore, persists and detracts from the appearance of the area
longer than many other types of litter;

11. At the present time there is no Recycling Program in Freeport for
polystyrene foam food or beverage containers;

12. Some other commonly used food packaging materials are also
non-biodegradable and contribute to litter problems;
nevertheless, the Council finds that it is appropriate to
regulate polystyrene foam food packaging while not regulating
other types of food packaging at this time for the following

A. To minimize disruption in the food services and sales
industry, the Council should avoid banning a wide range of
packaging materials at one time. It might be appropriate to
ban other packaging materials in the future, but an
incremental approach to eliminating undesirable packaging
materials will cause less disruption and allow the Town to
handle enforcement in more manageable stages;

B. Polystyrene foam is the most commonly used non-reuseable
food packaging material for prepared foods in restaurants
and food service establishments in Freeport and, therefore,
prohibiting its use for such purpose and its sale at retail
will be the most effective way of reducing non-biodegradable
litter in Freeport;

C. Ingestion of polystyrene foam particles has been identified
as a hazard to wildlife, while this problem has not been
associated with other food packaging materials.


1. On and after January 1, 1990, no retail food vendor shall serve
or sell prepared food and no food packager shall package meat,
eggs, bakery products or other food in polystyrene foam (PSF)

2. On and after January 1, 1990, no vendor in the Town of Freeport
who sells tangible personal property at retail shall sell
polystyrene foam food or beverage containers;

3. Violations of this Ordinance shall be punishable by fines as

A. A fine not exceeding $250 for the first violation in a
one-year period;

B. A fine not exceeding $500 for the second and each subsequent
violation in a one-year period;

Cover photo: The Street in Freeport, Maine. Author: Jared C. Benedict. Used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later.



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