Maryland Passes First Statewide Styrofoam Food Container Ban

Baltimore Sun article (2019-04-03) reported that Maryland has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation banning polystyrene food containers and cups after two prior attempts failed. The ban has been a legislative priority for the environmental community.

HB 109, sponsored by Delegate Brooke Lierman, passed the General Assembly with a vote of 100-37 in the House of Delegates and 31-13 in the Senate. The bill will now go to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for signing. The article noted that Hogan has not yet taken a position on the bill.

The bill prohibits the sale of certain polystyrene foam food and beverage containers that are intended to be used once for eating or drinking after July 1, 2020. Food service businesses, such as restaurants and grocery stores, may not offer food in polystyrene products after that date as well. Violators could be subject to a $250 fine. The bill does has some exceptions, including: (1) food in polystyrene foam that was packaged before receipt by the food service business; (2) polystyrene foam products used to package raw or uncooked meat, fish, poultry, or seafood; (3) nonfoam polystyrene food service products; and (4) food stored in polystyrene foam containers for later distribution outside the state.

From the article:

“After three years of hard work, I’m thrilled to see Maryland be a leader in the fight to end our reliance on single-use plastics that are polluting our state, country, and world by passing a bill to prohibit foam food containers,” Lierman said. “The health of the Chesapeake Bay, our waterways, our neighborhoods, and our children’s futures depends on our willingness to do the hard work of cleaning the mess that we inherited and created.”

SB 285, the cross-file for HB 109 sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan, has passed the House with amendments making it identical to HB 109. The Senate still has to approve the House amendments on that bill.

The article also noted that the District of Columbia and Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties have enacted their own bans.