A January 20 Montgomery County Council press release announced the Council’s unanimous vote to ban the use of polystyrene foam in certain food containers and utensils and packing materials in favor of compostable or recyclable alternatives. From the press release:
The bill, whose chief sponsor was Councilmember Hans Riemer and which was co-sponsored by Council President George Leventhal and Councilmember Marc Elrich, will prohibit the use and sale of polystyrene foam food service products and the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (packing peanuts) effective Jan. 1, 2016. The bill will also require the use of compostable or recyclable single-use disposable food service ware, such as plates, bowls, cups and eating utensils by the County Government and its contractors effective Jan. 1, 2016, and for private businesses effective Jan. 1, 2017.
The bill prohibits the use of foam food service products by food service businesses and the sale of foam loose fill packaging (packing peanuts) and bulk foam food service products. Among the items that the bill covers are containers, plates, cups, trays and egg cartons. Products packaged outside the County before receipt by the food service business, and materials used to package raw meat, seafood or poultry, are exempt from the prohibition.
The bill was approved by a vote of 8-0. Councilmember Nancy Navarro was absent from the meeting due to a death in her family.
Councilmembers cited the non-biodegradable nature of polystyrene, its carcinogenic properties, and the availability of compostable or recyclable alternatives as reasons for passing the bill.