Yesterday Montgomery County councilmembers Hans Riemer and George Leventhal introduced Bill 41-14, to ban polystyrene foam food packaging starting in 2016. The bill is similar to one passed this summer in Washington, DC, giving the measure even greater environmental impact while allowing for more widespread public education and business outreach.
As in DC, the ban applies to foam packaging used for takeout food–plates, cups, trays, and clamshells–but it also includes the sale of those products in stores as well as packing peanuts.
Polystyrene foam comprises a quarter to even 40 percent of trash captured in the Anacostia River. Because it breaks into tiny pieces so quickly, it is difficult to pick up, leaving it to persist in the environment forever. There, it absorbs toxic chemicals and can be eaten by fish and other aquatic life.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives available, at comparable cost. Many businesses have already made the switch to more sustainable recyclable or compostable packaging. But there is more to do.
How can you help?
– Email or tweet your councilmembers and tell them that you support Bill 41-14 and that you hope they do too! See our Montgomery County tab for a sample email and contact information.
– Come out to one of our partners’ cleanups and see the problem for yourself. Details coming soon!
– Testify at the public hearing, October 14 at 7:30 in Rockville. You can also submit written testimony. Contact us for more info on signing up and preparing your comments.
– Support businesses that have made the switch. Thank them for using less toxic packaging.
– Support Trash Free Maryland’s work to advocate in Rockville, educating councilmembers, businesses, and the public. We can’t do this without your help!