Costa Rica passes law to ban Styrofoam containers

Costa Rica has passed legislation creating a full ban on the import, marketing, and distribution of all Styrofoam, or polystyrene, containers. The law was approved by legislators on June 13. Following signing by President Carlos Alvarado the legislation will fully take effect in two years.

The ban will include financial consequences for violations, including fines ranging from $760 to $7,600. The government of Costa Rica will spend the next two years assisting companies in transitioning from Styrofoam containers to more environmentally sustainable options. 

Legislator Paola Vega said of the ban, “This initiative is a giant step for public health, the environment and the economy of the country because styrofoam generates great pollution.”

Costa Rica takes up a mere 0.03% of the earth’s surface, but incredibly makes up 6% of the Earth’s biodiversity. Costa Rica is setting an inspirational example by making significant strides towards protecting the environmental richness and diversity of the country- in the case of this legislation from Styrofoam, which can take 500-1 million years to break down on its own.

This is not the first time Costa Rica has instituted impactful legislation relating to climate change and environmental sustainability. Rolled out in 2018 ‘The National Decarbonization Plan 2018-2050’ details plans for becoming carbon emission free by 2050. Executive Director of North America at the Climate Group, Amy Davidsen, has said, “All governments should look to Costa Rica as a leading example of the commitment and urgency to develop their own decarbonization plans to address the greatest challenge of our time – global warming.”

Also this year in environmental victories the state of Maine became the first US state to create legislation banning styrofoam food containers and Tanzania banned plastic bags.

How does banning Styrofoam encourage development of sustainable alternatives? What are the laws surrounding single use plastics or Styrofoam containers in your area?

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