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Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Ending the flow of trash at the source

What The Foam?!

Join us in keeping plastic foam foodware out of our ocean

Our ocean has a plastic foam problem.

In 2022, plastic foam takeout containers—often colloquially referred to by the brand name “Styrofoam”—were the seventh most common item collected by Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup volunteers. This is the highest this item has ranked since it was first tracked as a standalone category ten years ago. Taken together, plastic foam foodware including cups, plates and takeout containers, are in the top ten most common types of plastic littering our beaches, totaling more than 8.7 million collected since 1986—and this doesn’t even include the small pieces that plastic foam notoriously breaks up into.

Not only does plastic foam pollute beaches, but it also pollutes our waste streams. According to a new Ocean Conservancy report, more than half of all Americans regularly attempt to recycle this non-recyclable plastic—that’s at least 2.4 BILLION pieces of plastic foam mucking up our recycling system each year.

To all of us at Ocean Conservancy, this adds up to just one question: What The Foam!?

The good news is momentum to eliminate this material in the last decade has increased tremendously with many national, state and local governments phasing out plastic foam. At the same time, our ocean needs bigger and bolder action now. That’s why Ocean Conservancy is calling on Congress to say #WhatTheFoam and pass a national ban on this single-use material, starting with foodware.

Ahead of the 2023 International Coastal Cleanup, Ocean Conservancy is inviting ocean lovers everywhere to be a part of the movement to get plastic foam off our beaches for good.

Learn how you can join the International Coastal Cleanup here.

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