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Maryland Edges Closer to Polystyrene Ban

Maryland’s House of Delegates has passed a bill that would ban restaurants from using polystyrene foam containers and cups; if Republican Gov. Larry Hogan signs the bill, Maryland would become the first state to enact such a ban.

The Republican governor says he has not yet taken a position on whether he’ll sign the bill, but many Republicans have raised concerns that a foam-container ban would increase costs for small businesses and farmers. American Chemistry Council lobbyist Josh Young, who opposed the bill at a recent hearing, says not only are foam alternatives more pricey, but that they won’t break down in landfills (via the Baltimore Sun).

“You are forcing establishments to switch to a more expensive product that will do nothing to clean up the environment and in fact increase litter and greenhouse gases,” Young says.

The ban would not include products packaged outside of Maryland or foam products used to package meat. Offenders could receive fines of up to $250.

Polystyrene containers are difficult and costly to recycle and, though no states have yet put bans into place, more than 100 cities and counties in the US have enacted such bans, Mark Marinozzi, vice president of PR and marketing at World Centric, told Environmental Leader.

But switching from foam is not an easy process, especially for restaurants, which tend to look at costs down to the penny. Compared to many alternatives, foam offers better insulating capacity and costs less, says Bryan Buffalo, senior vice president of the fast-casual chain Nature’s Table, which has around 75 locations nationwide. Foam also tends to weigh less, meaning lower freight costs, he told Environmental Leader.

For a more in-depth look at polystyrene issue, see Restaurant Industry Faces Challenges with Plant-Based Packaging Shift.

The 4th Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 13 – 15, 2019 in Denver. Learn more here.

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