For the third year, we will be advocating for a statewide ban on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food containers, in order to ensure this fragile, hard to recycle, and toxic material is kept out of our communities and waterways. Once again, the Maryland Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment voted the EPS foam ban as one of their priority bills for the 2019 General Assembly – a strong signal to legislators, constituents and businesses that waste reduction and trash pollution are a critical focus for environmental advocates.
The first couple of weeks of this year’s General Assembly Session will be all about getting to know the new members following last year’s election. This includes new committee leadership, particularly in the Senate where three of four Committee Chairs are new and all four of the Committee Vice-Chairs are new to their roles. And, we’re thrilled to have Kim Lamphier on board as our new Advocacy Director this legislative session. Read more about her here.
During the first weeks of session, we will meet with our lead sponsors, Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) and Delegate Brooke Lierman (D-46) to strategize to ensure this is the year the bill passes. We, along with a diverse range of partners, are meeting with members of the House Environment and Transportation Committee and the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee – the lead committees on this issue – to educate, engage and empower our state lawmakers to see the promise of this bill in preserving and protecting Maryland’s waterways and wildlife.
Since the last general assembly, the conversation around plastic and single use waste, marine pollution, and effective ways to reduce and prevent litter has exploded rapidly. From a summer focusing on straw use, to a compelling cover of National Geographic, and a multitude of fresh commitments and campaigns to ditch disposables, we hope to see continuing progress from our elected officials this session. Cities across the United States are leading the effort to ban foam. Among them, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis along with smaller cities like Maine’s Portland and Freeport with connections to the coast or significant waterways. And Maryland has also shown leadership. Our cities and counties are leading the way in our state. Most recently the City of Annapolis joined other municipalities including Baltimore City, the Cities of Gaithersburg, Takoma Park and Rockville, as well as Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties that have all enacted foam bans. This year we hope to have Maryland become the first state to ban EPS foam food service products.
In the coming weeks, we will be asking you to call your members to ask them to co-sponsor the bill, urge them for a favorable vote in committee and when the legislation comes to the floor, and to engage your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues on how to be effective advocates for litter legislation. Please stay tuned for these requests as the bills are drafted, introduced, and begin moving forward! Subscribe to our newsletter, and/or follow us social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for the latest news and action alerts. We need everyone to be a part of team Trash Free MD!