The use of expanded polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam, will be restricted across Costa Rica in most situations beginning August 7, La Nacion reports.
The new policy enforces Law No. 9703, which was passed in July 2019. The law bans Styrofoam “in any commercial establishment,” though it makes exceptions for the packaging of household appliances, certain industrial uses and other cases in which the use of alternative materials is not viable.
Costa Rica will “promote and encourage” the development of more environmentally friendly packaging alternatives, according to Casa Presidencial. The law tasked the Health Ministry with enacting a national plan for replacing polystyrene packaging with containers made from different materials.
“We are demonstrating to Costa Rica that we are going to fight to protect citizens’ fundamental rights, such as the right to health, and at the same time, we are sending a clear message that these actions respond to the unequivocal commitment that this administration has the decarbonization of the economy,” said President Carlos Alvarado when the law was passed in 2019.
Polystyrene is generally considered non-biodegradeable and can cause significant health problems for animals that ingest it.
Costa Rica has also passed laws restricting single-use plastics — most notably, banning them from national parks — but environmentalists have criticized the country for not taking stronger action to reduce plastic use.