Baltimore polystyrene ban passes out of committee

The Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee of the Baltimore City Council voted unanimously today in favor of a measure that would ban disposable food-service foam containers from restaurants and city facilities. The ban would extend to cups, plates, dishes, bowls, trays, clamshell containers, and similar items used for transporting prepared foods. The proposal also prohibits City funds from being used to purchase these materials. Violating the ordinance would result in a $200 fine.

Foam polystyrene (often called by the brand name Styrofoam) comprises a third of the litter in the Harris Creek watershed, explained Dr. Ray Bahr, a local activist. This litter winds up in the Baltimore Harbor, which is plagued by floating debris.

The bill, #12-0104, was introduced by Councilmember Jim Kraft (D-District 1) last July. It received favorable reports from numerous City agencies, and the committee heard public testimony today. Councilmembers Robert Curran (District 3), Bill Henry (District 4), Warren Branch (District 13), and Mary Pat Clarke (District 14) joined Kraft in voting favorably.

The bill now moves to the full 15-member Council, with a vote expected during Monday’s session. Ten councilmembers joined Kraft as cosponsors on the legislation.

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