Maryland could soon be the first state to completely ban polystyrene food containers.
The state House of Delegates this week passed a measure to outlaw the disposable foam products, following up on a bill passed by the state Senate earlier this month. The legislation now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), although a spokesperson wouldn’t say whether he’d sign it into law.
“The House just voted to make Maryland the first state to ban foam food containers,” Delegate Brooke Lierman, a sponsor of the bill, wrote on Facebook. “Maryland may be a small state, but we have the chance with this legislation to LEAD the country on eliminating this horrible form of single use plastic from our state. We have a duty to future generations to clean up the mess that has been made ― this bill is an important step!”
Polystyrene foam cannot be recycled and can be detrimental to the environment, Lierman pointed out. Studies also have linked polystyrene takeout containers with cancer.
The legislation, if it becomes law, would give businesses a year to phase out the use of such materials and replace them with more eco-friendly alternatives.
Several major cities have crafted similar policies, including New York City, which became the largest U.S. jurisdiction to ban polystyrene food and beverage containers this year.
“Polystyrene foam food and beverage containers have been a first-class environmental nuisance since they were introduced into the marketplace in the 1970s,” the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote in December. “Their brittle composition has meant that coffee cups and clamshells often break into tiny pieces, which litter streets, parks and beaches.”
Maryland’s legislation has faced opposition from industry. The state retailers association said environmental-friendly alternatives were too expensive and claimed it would cost nearly $35 million extra a year to replace them, according to WBAL-TV.
“Not only will costs go up for restaurants and be passed onto consumers, but because comparable products weigh more and many cannot be recycled, costs will increase due to higher tipping fees (based on weight) at landfills,” Cailey Locklair Tolle, the president of the Maryland Retailers Association, told CNN.
This story is part of a series on plastic waste, funded by SC Johnson. All content is editorially independent, with no influence or input from the company.