Maryland county bans polystyrene food containers, packing peanuts

Sales of EPS food service products in the county to be prohibited in 2016.

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January 23, 2015

The Montgomery (Maryland) County Council has unanimously enacted a bill that bans the use and sale of certain expanded polystyrene food service products and the sale of certain polystyrene packing materials in the county. In its stead, the bill will require the use of compostable or recyclable alternatives.

The bill will prohibit the use and sale of polystyrene foam food service products and the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, effective Jan. 1, 2016. The bill also requires the use of compostable or recyclable single-use disposable food service ware by the county government and its contractors by Jan. 1, 2016; for private businesses effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Among the items that the bill covers are containers, plates, cups, trays and egg cartons. Products exempted from the prohibition include products packaged outside the county before receipt by the food service business and materials used to package raw meat, seafood or poultry.

“The bill we approved today is another great step forward in protecting our environment, especially our waterways,” says Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal, who co-sponsored the bill. “In 2012, I sponsored the resolution banning the use of polystyrene food service products by county government, and I applaud the recent decision of Montgomery County’s public schools (MCPS) to stop using polystyrene lunch trays. Because MCPS was able to make this transition, I am confident that the private sector will be able to as well, and we are giving them almost two years to comply.”

A link to the full text of the bill is available at the County Council’s website at: http://tinyurl.com/mv6vbp8.