Council Bans Styrofoam Foodware In Montgomery County


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The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday approved a ban of environmentally harmful styrofoam plates, trays, cups and carryout trays. The Council approved the ban by an 8-0 vote. Councilmember Nancy Navarro was absent from Tuesday's session because of a death in her family. Bill sponsors Hans Riemer, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal said the measure was necessary because unlike other trash, studies show foam products don't biodegrade and can't be recycled. The bill will ban the use of all polystyrene foam food service products and the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (known as packing peanuts) starting Jan. 1, 2016 in Montgomery County. It also requires the county government and its contractors to use only compostable or recyclable "single-use disposable food service ware," such as plates, bowls, cups and eating utensils effective Jan. 1, 2016. The same requirement will go in to effect for private businesses on Jan. 1, 2017. Among the items the bill covers: foam containers, plates, cups, trays and egg cartons. "Many studies have shown that these foam products, especially those used for take out food, make up a substantial portion of the waste found in our waterways," Riemer said in a County Council press release. "It never biodegrades, but it breaks apart, making it especially difficult to clean up. Recyclable and compostable alternatives are readily available and competitively priced, so it is time to move on from using foam products." County Councilmember Marc Elrich (file photo)Leventhal said Montgomery County Public Schools deserves credit for its recent decision to ditch polystyrene lunch trays. "Because MCPS was able to make this transition, I am confident that the private sector will be able to as well, and we are giving them almost two years to comply," Leventhal said in the press release. "Once broken into smaller pieces, it makes its way into our streams and oceans, where it is ingested by fish, seabirds and other animals, eventually moving up the food chain," Elrich added. "The EPA says that 100 percent of Americans have styrene -- a known carcinogen -- in their bodies. Now, Montgomery County joins the cities of New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. in banning this material--for our environment and our health." Products packaged outside the county for delivery to those in the food service business will be exempt from the ban, as will materials often used to package raw meat, seafood and poultry.

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