New Law is a Big Step toward Eliminating Foam Foodware in Illinois

Friends of the Chicago River lauds a new law that bans the purchasing and distribution of polystyrene foam foodware in all state facilities and agencies. Advocating for this new law was a priority for the Coalition for Plastic Reduction, which is comprised of more than 35 organizations across Illinois, including Friends of the Chicago River.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker singed the State Entities Single-Use Plastic Reporting Act on August 4; it will go into effect January 1, 2025 for state agencies and January 1, 2026 for vendors. The law also requires state agencies to track and implement goals to reduce single-use plastic disposable foodware beginning in July of next year. 

“Phasing out single-use polystyrene foam foodware is a giant step toward protecting the Chicago-Calumet River system and the Great Lakes from single-use plastic and foam pollution,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends' executive director. “Plastic and foam foodware pollution puts our lakes and rivers at risk, polluting our drinking water and harming wildlife. We thank Governor Pritzker and the legislature for their leadership in taking important step toward addressing single use plastic pollution.”

The EPA estimates that Americans throw away almost 70 million plastic foam cups every day. Each year 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes 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.

Frisbie also thanked State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17th District) and State Sen. Laura Fine (D-9th District) for their leadership in sponsoring the new law.