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Ocean Conservancy Endorses Newly Introduced Farewell to Foam Act in Wake of “What the Foam?!” Campaign Launch

Legislation comes just two months following release of Ocean Conservancy report showing that over 5.6 billion pieces of plastic foam foodware are used in the U.S. each year


Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-37) introduced a bill phasing out the use of plastic foam (often referred to colloquially by the brand name “Styrofoam”) foodware and other single-use items across the entire United States. Ocean Conservancy experts have worked closely with legislators since September, when the organization first launched a campaign to ban the material alongside its annual International Coastal Cleanup. The bill, entitled the Farewell to Foam Act (H.R.6654, S.3440), would restrict the sale and use of foam foodware, foam packing peanuts, and single-use foam coolers beginning in 2026.  

“Plastic foam has a devastating impact on our ocean: plastic foam foodware items are among the most common single-use plastics found on beaches and waterways, where they easily break down into tiny pieces and can be ingested by marine life,” said Dr. Anja Brandon, Ocean Conservancy’s associate director of U.S. plastics policy. “In recent years, we’ve seen a wave of state and local municipalities take action and phase out plastic foam foodware, but piecemeal efforts are not enough to address the flood of single-use plastics polluting our environment. Enough is enough, and we’re thrilled to see Congress say farewell to foam.”

“Single-use plastics like foam food containers don’t disappear when you throw them away – they end up choking waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and contaminating our food supply. This pollution poses a serious, growing danger to human and environmental health and causes real economic harm to those whose livelihoods depend on our waterways,” said Senator Van Hollen. “By phasing out foam and encouraging the use of more sustainable packaging, we can tackle a major driver of pollution and improve the health of our communities.”

“Plastic foam is a permanent polluter,” said Rep. Doggett. “As trash clutters our waterways, roadsides, and greenspaces, plastic foam doesn’t ever fully disintegrate. Instead, it ever so slowly degrades into microplastics that pollute our bodies and our planet. This legislation, informed by successful state and local plastic foam bans, seeks a cleaner, more sustainable future for our entire country by saying farewell to foam.”

Ocean Conservancy estimates that at least 5.6 billion plastic foam cups, plates, and takeout containers are used by Americans each year. Since 2014, 11 states and Washington D.C. have passed similar bans, and International Coastal Cleanup data shows their impact: in Maryland, the first state to pass a ban, the amount of plastic foam foodware items collected since this law went into effect has declined by 65%.  Ocean Conservancy’s recently published report has also found strong support for national action, with 70% of Americans across political parties supporting a national ban on this material.

Moreover, confusion over the recyclability of plastic foam is common. The same survey found that half of Americans reported putting plastic foam in their recycling bin in the last two weeks, and 35% reported that they always attempted to recycle foam, despite this material being unrecyclable through curbside recycling programs. Ocean Conservancy estimates that this amounts to roughly 2.5 billion pieces of foam foodware contaminating American recycling systems each year.

Plastic foam foodware items are among the top 10 most common single-use plastic items collected in the nearly 40-year history of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup: since 1986 volunteers have collected over 8.7 million plastic foam cups, plates, and takeout containers globally. Smaller foam pieces are even more ubiquitous: since 2013, Ocean Conservancy has tracked the types of “tiny trash” items volunteers collect from beaches and waterways, and in that time, nearly 30 million foam pieces have been recorded globally.

Senator Van Hollen and Rep. Doggett are joined by 69 of their colleagues in sponsoring this critical piece of legislation.

Experts are available for interviews upon request.

A media kit with photos, b-roll, and a downloadable version of Ocean Conservancy’s “What The Foam?!” report can be found here.

ABOUT OCEAN CONSERVANCY Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create evidence-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit, or follow us on Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter) or Instagram.


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