Plastic Mitigation

After being tabled in 2020 given the focus on pandemic-related issues, the new foam-free NH bill came to public hearing last week on Tuesday, February 16, at 10:30am before the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. The bill—HB618— would prohibit the sale or distribution of polystyrene foam in food service businesses, effectively banning polystyrene foam food packaging statewide (exceptions include health care facilities, Meals on Wheels programs and out of state polystyrene packaged food or beverage).

 

Say No To Styrofoam

Better known as the brand name Styrofoam, polystyrene foam makes up everything from your typical take out container to the egg trays and meat trays from the local supermarket. Used by the food industry given its lightweight properties, low cost and insulation capabilities, Styrofoam has a considerable environmental impact. The lightweight property makes it incredibly easy for the foam to pollute our water. While the material itself degrades slowly (another environmentally problematic feature), foam crumbles easily meaning fish, birds and other animals unknowingly consume it.

Among other goals, the bill aims to mitigate these harmful effects on the environment and NH’s inhabitants and reduce pressure foam creates on local landfills and waste disposal. 

During last week’s public hearing, Surfrider’s Northeast Regional Manager Melissa Gates, NH Chapter Secretary Christina Dubin, and members of our statewide coalition to reduce single-use plastics spoke, with Chairman Hunt noting that 113 people signed in to support the bill, while only 13 signed in to oppose. 

If ultimately passed, the bill is slated to take effect January 1, 2022. After that date, according to the bill, no food service business shall sell or distribute a disposable food service product for foods or beverages that is composed in whole or in part of polystyrene foam within the state of New Hampshire.

The bill would be a large step forward in New Hampshire’s anti-plastic efforts. Similar efforts have already taken effect across the US including specific cities like NYC, San Francisco and others, as well as Maine (the first state to ban the use of Styrofoam food containers in 2019), Maryland and more. 

To join the effort and get involved in making NH foam free, read HB618, follow the progress of HB618 here on our blog, campaign page and social channels or give a shout to learn more about testifying before the NH General County in COVID + engage with us on this effort: nh@surfrider.org.

 

Additional resources:

HB618 bill: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lsr_search/billText.aspx?id=734&type=4 

Surfrider anti-foam bill campaign page: https://www.surfrider.org/campaigns/lets-ban-foam-food-packaging-in-new-hampshire 

Why NY Banned Styrofoam

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33334994

Maine’s move as first state to ban Styrofoam

https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/441595-with-governors-signature-maine-becomes-first-state-to-ban-styrofoam 

A good round up of other states’ and cities’ anti-plastic movements with mention of several company anti-plastic moves as well

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/business/new-york-styrofoam-ban-trnd 

Discovery in 2017 of Styrofoam in middle of Arctic Ocean

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/24/arctic-plastic-pollution-polystyrene-wildlife-threat

Sara Dyer is a local writer and surfer and proud member of Surfrider NH. Follow her blog and sign up for her newsletter for words on surf and more at saradyer.com and pick up a copy of her book Be Surf: A Surfer’s Brief Manual for Living locally at We Fill Good in Kittery Maine or on Amazon.com. She’s on Instagram at @sara_dyer_writer.

Photo Credits: 1) Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash 2) Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash 3) Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash 4) Photo by Maddie Smith