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Maryland could become the first state to ban polystyrene food containers | Our Daily Planet

Photo: WBOC

As the Huffington Post reported, Maryland could soon be the first state to completely ban polystyrene food containers. Last week, the state House of Delegates 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. While individual counties in Maryland have already implemented polystyrene bans, if Governor Hogan signs the bill Maryland will beat out Hawaii as the first state to make a statewide ban official. The race is on!

As Maryland Delegate Brooke Lierman explained in her Facebook post, ” If we continue at the rate of plastic production and usage that we are at today, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. 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!”

Additionally, as WBOC explained, if the bill were to become a law, local county health departments would enforce the restriction and would be able to levy fines of $250 for using or selling the polystyrene food service containers. Route Fifty added that, “among the opponents to the legislation is the Maryland Retailers Association, which prefers recycling and education programs to an outright foam ban.”

Why This Matters: Americans, especially Millennials, are ordering more takeout than ever and all that convenience comes with a hefty environmental footprint. Packaging makes up the largest category of municipal waste in the United States and when it comes to polystyrene, a lot of it winds up in our oceans where (like plastic) it doesn’t biodegrade. We have to make a cultural shift away from thinking of any item as “single-use,” as Conservation International’s CEO M. Sanjayan explains in this super informative video for Vox, and it’s really not that difficult. And if polystyrene’s contribution to our growing waste problem wasn’t a reason enough to cheer on Maryland’s efforts, recent research has revealed that styrene (a building block of polystyrene) is a likely carcinogen.

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