Government and Politics

Proposal to Ban Polystyrene Foam in Maryland Faces Rejection from the House

The Baltimore City Council has approved a ban on plastic foam containers for carryout food and drinks, giving vendors 18 months to completely phase out the containers. Could the entire state of Maryland be next?

Shortly after the city council unanimously passed the bill, the General Assembly proposed a bill to prohibit polystyrene materials from being used in restaurants and schools across Maryland.

The proposal was voted down by a House of Delegates committee, raising concerns from a Senate panel.

If passed, the legislation would have made Maryland the first state in the U.S. to put a ban on polystyrene foam. Already, Montgomery, Prince George, and Baltimore countries prohibit it.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat. She referred to the panel’s vote as “both disappointing and infuriating.”

The proposal was assigned to two House committees and two Senate committees. It was rejected by one House panel but approved by one Senate panel. Del. Brooke Lierman, a Baltimore Democrat sponsoring a version of the legislation, announced her plan to follow through with the proposal.

“If we are ultimately unsuccessful this year, I will work with members of the committee over the interim and, if I am re-elected, I will re-file this bill on the first day of the next legislative session,” she said. “Preserving our water and protecting public health through banning noxious products like EPS foam is too important to give up on.”

Styrofoam is used in a variety of industries. From restaurants to meat packaging, polystyrene materials are commonly used. And seeing as how 90 pounds of chicken are consumed by Americans each year, that’s a lot of polystyrene packaging that’s being used.

The Baltimore City Council has set a $1,000 fine in motion for those who violate the law after the initial 18-month adjustment period. Those on the council don’t agree that they don’t want people to go to jail, simply change their behaviors.

There are concerns among those who have yet to vote on the bill. Main concerns include inadvertently sending more material to landfills, producing more greenhouse gases, and having a negative impact on businesses. Others on the panels feel as though this is more of a local government issue, rather than a state-wide decision.

Despite the House committee already rejecting the proposed bill, the panels will continue discussing the legislation.

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