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Say goodbye to polystyrene foam food service containers in Maui County

By Staff | Dec 27, 2018

It seemed drastic when Maui County implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags in January 2011, but we adjusted quickly.

A major source of pollution was erased. Today, it’s nice to not see grocery store bags floating in the ocean and hanging from trees along our highways.

Maui County is taking the next step on Monday. Effective Dec. 31, 2018, polystyrene food service containers will be banned for use, sale or provision in Maui County.

The ban will impact county food providers that now serve food or beverages in these containers, as well as businesses that sell polystyrene food service products. Through the ban, these businesses will be forced to use alternative products that are safer for the environment.

There are many good reasons to avoid polystyrene – the biggest here being marine pollution and its adverse effects on wildlife.

Maui County explained, “Polystyrene foam is lightweight, floats, and is more likely to be blown from landfills, even when disposed of properly. Sixty to 80 percent of marine debris is polystyrene. These fragments floating through the ocean are a transport mechanism for toxic substances. Other municipalities that have banned polystyrene food containers reported up to 60 percent less polystyrene litter. While it won’t solve all the problems we face with excessive plastic waste, this is a step in the right direction.”

And, with growing concerns about climate change, it’s important to note that methane and ethylene – major contributors to global warming – are emitted as polystyrene breaks down.

It’s alarming to realize that every polystyrene takeout container you’ve grabbed from a restaurant will take more than FIVE CENTURIES to decompose.

The Surfrider Foundation is very happy with the latest change.

“Maui County led the movement to ban plastic bags in Hawaii, and they just became the first in the state to ban polystyrene food containers… years of deliberation and many studies only confirmed the fact that polystyrene is one of the most littered (top ten items) and least recycled forms of plastic (less than 1 percent),” the organization wrote on its website.

For more information, visit mauicounty.gov/foamfree.