May 1 (UPI) -- Maine has become the first state to implement an outright ban on polystyrene, widely known as Styrofoam, food containers, which are one of the 10 most-littered items in the United States.
Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Tuesday that bars polystyrene. It will take effect Jan. 1.
"Polystyrene cannot be recycled like a lot of other products, so while that cup of coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup it was in is not," Mills said in a statement.
At least 14 towns and cities throughout Maine had already banned food containers made of the slowly biodegrading material.
"Maine is now leading the nation in dealing with polystyrene pollution," said Maine lawmaker Paige Ziegler, who sponsored the law. "Polystyrene is harmful to humans, it puts strain on our fish stocks and it can't be recycled. Thankfully, there are Maine-made alternatives ready to be used. The shift to using sustainable containers and materials is a shift to a cleaner Maine."
Other municipalities around the country have banned other containers harmful to the environment -- including New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio last month prohibited the city from buying single-use plastic containers.