This year we are asking the General Assembly once more to tackle expanded polystrene (EPS) foam food containers. In its manufacture and use, it exposes people to increased cancer risk. In the water, it absorbs more chemicals from the water than any other plastic, and exposes fish to unsafe levels of pesticides and fertilizers. It can carry invasive species, and we’re beginning to learn all the places microplastics are ending up: in our tap and bottled water, table salt, beer, and human stools. It’s also a bigger litter problem than other items; it’s only 1% of the waste stream but in a stream cleanup it’s anywhere from 10 to even 40% of the litter collected.
It’s time to make polystyrene a pollutant of the past in Maryland. Alternative packaging, whether paper or rigid plastic, is already readily available, and if businesses demand alternatives en masse, we’ll see access and options increase even more.
In 2017 and 2018, we worked with Delegate Brooke Lierman (District 46, Baltimore City) and Senator Cheryl Kagan (District 17, Montgomery County) to introduce a bill to phase out polystyrene foam food packaging across Maryland. To read about what happened last year, visit our blog, and here for 2019 updates and resources. Together with our champions Delegate Brooke Lierman (District 46, Baltimore City) and Senator Cheryl Kagan (District 17, Montgomery County), we are pushing even harder towards a #FoamFreeMD!
The law is modeled on the program in Prince George’s County, which started in July 2016. It bans foam food packaging like cups, plates, and clamshell containers from food businesses and other food providers. It also bans their sale at retail outlets, and it bans the use of foam cafeteria trays in schools.
It allows businesses to use up their existing stock, and to apply for a one-year exemption if no affordable alternative exists.
Maryland could be the proving ground for all kinds of innovative sustainable packaging, supporting the growing food waste composting industry and helping the state and counties meet waste reduction goals.
Keep track of the bill online:
- HB0109 – Environment – Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products – Prohibition
- SB0285 – Environment – Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products – Prohibition
Other bills we’re supporting:
- HB0134 – Environment – Single-Use Plastic Straws – Use in Restaurants
- SB0183 – Recycling – Lodging Establishments – Notification to Guests
Education and Outreach Materials:
- Foam Ban Fact Sheet
- Are you a business owner interested in alternative packaging? Here’s a list of distributors of recyclable and compostable products. Curious about how this would work? Check out the FAQ from Prince George’s County.
- For resources for the faith community, check out Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake resources
We have multiple letters of support that we will provide to legislators. Please sign as appropriate and share with your peers.
For questions or to learn more ways to support the bill, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.