Maryland May Be the 1st State in the Nation to Ban Foam Food Containers

Maryland could become the first U.S. state to ban polystyrene foam containers after both chambers of the state legislature passed bills this month banning food containers from being made with the substance.

A conference committee will work out the differences between the 2 bills, according to Del. Brooke Lierman, the sponsor of the House of Delegates version.

Polystyrene foam, more commonly referred to as Styrofoam, breaks up into tiny pieces and pollutes both land and sea. Baby fish consume bits of polystyrene that they’ve mistaken for food and it often kills them. As well, polystyrene cannot be recycled. [1] [2]

Styrofoam is also believed to pose health risks to humans. Last year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) wing classified polystyrene “probably carcinogenic to humans.” It has been linked to an increased risk of cancers of the pancreas and esophagus, as well as to leukemia and lymphoma, in workers exposed to high levels of polystyrene on the job.

From the House floor, Lierman said: [2]

“The House just voted to make Maryland the first state to ban foam food containers. 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!”

In order for the proposal to move forward, it must next be approved by Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who has yet to clarify his stance on the issue. According to Spokesperson Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, the Governor is “always willing to consider any piece of legislation that reaches his desk.” [1]

With Logan’s signature, the ban would go into effect on July 1, 2020. Violators could face $250 fines.

Certain types of foam would still be permitted for use, including those packaging raw meat. Some food products packaged in polystyrene outside of the state, as well as polystyrene use outside of food service, would still be permitted, according to Ashley Van Stone, executive director of Trash Free Maryland.

Single-use foam containers have already been banned in individual U.S. cities, including New York, Minneapolis, and Santa Monica. In the state of Maryland, the counties of Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel have already prohibited foam packaging.

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] The Huffington Post