Montgomery County Banned the Foam

I’m delighted to report that this morning the Montgomery County Council voted 8-0 to ban polystyrene foam food packaging!

Rock Creek in Montgomery County, Fall 2014

The law in many ways mirrors the law passed in DC last summer:

– On January 1, 2016, restaurants and carryouts will be banned from using expanded polystyrene foam food packaging (like clamshells, plates and cups). County offices and contractors will also be required to use recyclable or compostable alternatives for all disposable food packaging.
– On January 1, 2017, all disposable food packaging at restaurants and carryouts must also be recyclable or compostable.

The Montgomery County ban also includes sale of foam food packaging for consumer use (like 100-packs of cups you might buy at the grocery store) and foam packing peanuts, effective January 2016.

The ban does not apply to Montgomery County Public Schools, but the system has already moved away from foam trays to paper ones, as of this school year. They do still have some foam cups and plates on the premises, but continue to seek cost-effective alternatives.

This is huge. Polystyrene foam comprises a quarter to as much as 40 percent of the floatable trash collected in the Anacostia River watershed. The tiny pieces it breaks into release toxic chemicals into the water, and absorb other chemicals–and then they are often eaten by fish and other aquatic life, polluting our food chain.

We are thrilled at the regional approach that DC and Montgomery County have taken, and look forward to streets and streams with less plastic pollution!

Many thanks to the Councilmembers who worked to get this legislation passed, including Council President George Leventhal, Transportation & Environment Committee Chair Roger Berliner, and of course our dedicated sponsor, Hans Riemer.

Thanks also to all the Trash Free Maryland members who worked to support this bill, including Surfrider Foundation – DC Chapter, Alice Ferguson Foundation, Anacostia Watershed Society, Anacostia Riverkeeper, Audubon Naturalist Society, Potomac Conservancy, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Rock Creek Conservancy, Neighbors of the Northwest Branch, Hiking Along LLC, Sierra Club, and Conservation Montgomery.

Great work, everyone! Now, onward!

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