Delaware Passes Bill to Ban Plastic Foam Food Containers, Limit Plastic Straws   - Oceana USA

Delaware Passes Bill to Ban Plastic Foam Food Containers, Limit Plastic Straws  

Oceana Applauds Delaware State Legislators for Reducing the Amount of Plastic Flooding Our Planet

Press Release Date: June 27, 2023

Location: Dover, DE


Megan Jordan | email: | tel: 202.868.4061

Today, Delaware state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 51, which prohibits restaurants and other food service establishments from providing polystyrene foam food containers, plastic beverage stirrers, and plastic cocktail and sandwich picks, and requires that single-use plastic straws are only provided at the customer’s request. The bill will now go to Governor Carney’s desk to be signed into law and will go into effect on July 1, 2025. 

Policies governing the use of single-use plastic items are the most effective way to address the growing plastic pollution crisis, and they are becoming more common from the municipal to the national levels. Delaware is the eleventh state to pass a policy to reduce polystyrene foam, joining California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington as well as the District of Columbia.  

“Single-use plastics have no place in Delaware. With today’s vote, Delaware joins a growing number of states and cities that have taken initiative to address the plastics crisis by reducing the single-use plastics that harm our oceans, communities, and climate,” said Oceana’s Mid-Atlantic Field Representative Anna Weshner-Dunning. “We applaud the Delaware legislature for taking action to reduce plastic pollution and call on Governor Carney to sign this bill into law without delay.” 

Expanded polystyrene is a form of foamed plastic, made from fossil fuels, and commonly used for food containers and packaging. This disposable packaging is usually thrown away after a single use and breaks up into smaller pieces that are hard to clean up, disperse rapidly due to their lightweight nature, and can persist in the environment for decades. 

Dee Durham, co-founder of Plastic Free Delaware, a Delaware-based organization working to reduce plastic pollution across the state, said, “After years of working to get this bill passed, we are excited to be one step closer to having healthier waterways, wildlife, and a cleaner environment. With safer and more sustainable alternatives readily available, it is time to get polystyrene foam out of Delaware once and for all.”  


Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in drinking water, beer, salt, honey and more. It’s also one of the greatest contributors to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increased amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences. 

A 2020 Oceana report revealed evidence of nearly 1,800 animals from 40 different species swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic in U.S. waters between 2009 and early 2020. Of those animals, a staggering 88% were from species listed as endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act.  

Less than 6% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled, yet the plastics industry continues to tout recycling as a panacea while pushing new plastic products onto the market. Companies need to dramatically reduce the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastic, provide plastic-free choices, and develop systems that refill and reuse packaging and foodware. Elected officials must enact policies to ensure they do so.  

In February 2023, Oceana released the results of a nationwide poll that showed broad bipartisan concern about single-use plastics and support for reducing both the production and use of these products and increasing the use of reusable packaging and foodware. Polling was conducted by the nonpartisan polling company Ipsos, which surveyed 1,000 American adults from across the U.S. in December 2022.   

Included among the key findings:   

  • 83% of American voters are concerned about single-use plastic products.  
  • 84% support increasing the use of reusable packaging and foodware. 
  • 80% support requiring companies to reduce their single-use plastic packaging and foodware.  

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit