Ban on Foam Products

Bill Sponsors: Delegate Brooke Lierman (HB 229), Senator Cheryl Kagan (SB 186)

Lobby Day: February 8th - RSVP here, or email questions to jodi@interfaithchesapeake.org

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For too long, we have been wasteful and mindless in our use of natural resources. Maryland is ready for positive change.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in a wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 16-21

Polystyrene foam, commonly known as “Styrofoam,” is a widely-used product derived from petrochemicals. Foam waste is toxic BanTheFoamMoCo_800_400-edited.jpgwhen burned, but even more concerning is that it emits toxics simply when it is warmed. So, warm food served in a foam container is a bad combination! For more information:

Foam also never breaks down in landfills and persists in water bodies in the form of increasingly small particles. The particles absorb toxics due to their carbon-based makeup, and wildlife and fish ingest the particles thinking it’s food. This non-biodegradable material also adds to unsightly trash in both urban and natural environments. In other words, this foam contributes to “a wasteland.”

Maryland will be considering a ban on foam that would mean:

  • No establishment or institution would be able to serve food in foam containers. This includes not only restaurants, but also schools/universities and nonprofits such churches. Restaurants will also be banned from using foam containers for carryout or "doggie bags".
  • Packaging peanuts made of foam would not be sold in stores.
  • Picnic supplies such as foam plates and foam cups would not be sold in stores.

BanTheFoam1_original.jpgThe legislation would be enforced by individual County Health Departments, and the Maryland Department of Environment would lead outreach/educational efforts as part of their ambitious 25-year Zero Waste Plan. The bill will also offer hardship provisions for small businesses for which this legislation would cause undue financial hardship. Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Washington, D.C. already have a fully implemented foam ban, after which this statewide legislation is modeled. 

IPC supports legislation to encourage people to change their habitual use of wasteful products that demand oil for production and generate a wasteland of trash. We must live in harmony with all of Creation around us. IPC envisions a time when our children and grandchildren will no longer use non-degradable foam products! It is time for all of Maryland to “do a new thing!”