Gorgeous Prince George’s!
Half of the Anacostia River watershed lies in Prince George’s County, but many of the small tributaries are piped or channeled, hiding the effects of pollution from much of the 850,000 residents. Like DC and Montgomery County, Prince George’s is under federal mandate to reduce the amount of trash reaching the Anacostia, and we are seeing some progress.
In July 2016, the county joined its neighbors with a polystyrene foam food packaging ban. The bill, introduced by District 1 councilmember Mary Lehman, bans clamshells, plates, cups, and other food packaging, as well as packing peanuts, from restaurants and retailers countywide. Because foam comprises a quarter to 40 percent of the volume of trash captured in the Anacostia River, switching to compostable packaging will greatly help the waterway.
We’ve worked with county officials for a number of years to try to enact a disposable bag fee akin to those in DC and Montgomery County. Unfortunately, Prince George’s County (like most of Maryland’s counties) lacks certain taxing authorities that Montgomery County has, and the County Council is blocked from passing a bag fee without enabling legislation approved by the entire Maryland General Assembly. (The county could also put the proposal on the ballot for voters to decide.) So far, the General Assembly has not passed the enabling legislation despite unanimous consent on the Council. (It’s frustrating to us, too.)
Meanwhile, the county has developed a number of other programs, including litter prevention education, targeted neighborhood outreach, and incorporating litter cleanup into community policing activities. They also plan to implement mobile cameras at illegal dumping hotspots to increase enforcement, and they are working with DC to install a trash trap on Oxon Run in the southern part of the county.