Legislation Advances to Phase out Plastic Foam Foodware in Illinois

On March 21, the Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation that would phase out single-use polystyrene foam foodware beginning in January 2024 – a giant step toward protecting the Chicago-Calumet River system and the Great lakes from single-use plastic pollution. 

The bill – which passed the House by a 67-43 vote — is a priority for the Coalition for Plastic Reduction, which is comprised of more than 35 organizations across Illinois, including Friends of the Chicago River. A companion bill, introduced in the Illinois Senate, awaits action later this spring. Friends' Policy Manager Chelsey Grassfield represents Friends on the coalition and is part of the team leading efforts to ban foam foodware in the state.

The EPA estimates that Americans throw away almost 70 million plastic foam cups every dayTwenty-two million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year and just over half of that ends up in Lake Michigan alone. Already, eight states and roughly 200 cities and municipalities have enacted bans on polystyrene foam containers.

“Illinois’ lakes and rivers are among its greatest assets, but plastic pollution puts our waterways at risk, polluting our drinking water and harming wildlife,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends executive director. “We can’t recycle our way out of our plastic pollution problem. We need to stop it at its source. Phasing out single-use plastic polystyrene foam foodware is an important step toward addressing single use plastic pollution. We call on the state Senate to follow the House’s lead in passing this critical legislation.”

Frisbie also thanked State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17th District), for sponsoring the House legislation. State Sen. Laura Fine (D-9th District) is the Senate sponsor.

Take action today to urge your state senator to support SB0100 to phase out single-use polystyrene foam foodware in Illinois.