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Senators Introduce Legislation for National EPS Ban

The “Farewell to Foam Act” would prohibit the sale or distribution of EPS foam in certain products nationwide on Jan. 1, 2026.

Norbert Sparrow

December 13, 2023

2 Min Read
plastic food packaging in trash
Kajanan Sanitkunpai/iStock via Getty Images

US Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and US Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) have introduced legislation seeking to ban the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) for food service products, coolers, loose fill, and other purposes. Dubbed the Farewell to Foam Act,the legislation would prohibit the sale or distribution of EPS foam in certain products nationwide on Jan. 1, 2026.

Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Angus King of Maine, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch of Vermont have signed on as co-sponsors.

“Single-use plastics like foam food containers don’t disappear when you throw them away — they end up choking waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and contaminating our food supply,” wrote Van Hollen on his website. “This pollution poses a serious, growing danger to human and environmental health and causes real economic harm to those whose livelihoods depend on our waterways. By phasing out foam and encouraging the use of more sustainable packaging, we can tackle a major driver of pollution and improve the health of our communities.”

Advocates of banning EPS in single-use applications note that plastic foam is one source of microplastics in the environment, as it does not fully disintegrate. While EPS is recyclable, it is often not accepted in curbside programs because they don’t have the capability to recycle them.

Related:Construction, Packaging Fuel EPS Demand through 2032

In terms of enforcement, a first violation would result in a written notification. Subsequent infractions would incur penalties starting with $250 for a second violation, $500 for a third, and $1000 for the fourth and each violation thereafter.

Bans of EPS for food and other packaging have been enacted in various states and municipalities, starting with Maryland in 2019. Maine, Vermont, New York, Colorado, Oregon, and California, among other states, have one form or another of EPS bans in effect.

Despite these bans, demand for foamed EPS is expected to grow 3.3% per year through 2026, according to a report from the Freedonia Group. One of the main applications driving growth is home insulation — the material currently accounts for almost half of all insulation projects.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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