Ban on Foam Products

redcircle.pngWe are disappointed that this bill did not pass. Senate Bill 651, House Bill 538


Actions By Faith Leaders Supporting this Bill

What Happened with this Bill?

  1. The House Environmental Subcommittee, Chaired by Del. Kumar Barve, never brought the bill up for a formal vote in committee.
  2. The Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee (EHEA) passed the bill in committee. Votes recorded were as follows:
    • Yes: 6 Chairwoman Conway, Sen. Pinsky, Sen. Kagan, Sen. Nathan-Pulliam, Sen. Robinson, Sen. Young
    • No: 4 Sen. Salling, Sen. Bates, Sen. Simonaire, Sen. Waugh 
    • 1 absent: Sen. Zucker  
  3. The Senate Finance Committee chose to not take a position on the bill, meaning they offered the EHEA committee neither a favorable nor an unfavorable position. Here is a copy of the actual voting record, and summarized below:
    • Favorable: Chair Middleton, Sen. Feldman, Sen. Klausmeier, Sen. Reilly, Sen. Rosapepe
    • Unfavorable: Sen. Astle, Sen. Benson, Sen. Hershey, Sen. Jennings, Sen. Mathias
  4. In a show of support for the bill, EHEA Committee Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway pushed the bill to the full Senate Floor quickly. However, Senate President Mike Miller would not allow for a floor vote without a position from the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee held their vote in the hallway outside the Senate Floor. The first committee vote was an even 5 to 5 votes in favor of the bill. The wording was altered and the call was then made for unfavorable vote, in which the committee voted 5 to 5 in support of an unfavorable position on the bill. After two votes, it was determined that the motion failed. 
  5. The bill could not be voted on by the full Senate with a failed motion in the Finance Committee, so essentially the bill died in the Finance Committee. 
  6. The bill never passed either chamber before cross-over date, so the bill died in the first half of the session.  

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. Thus its production uses non-renewable resources and contributes to atmospheric pollution. Also, Styrofoam never breaks down, but breaks up into increasingly small particles that absorb toxics due to their carbon-based makeup. Fish and wildlife consume the pieces mistaking it for food. This bio-accumulation of toxicity is a risk to the food chain. In other words, this foam contributes to “a wasteland.”

It is our moral duty to be good caretakers of the Earth and its resources. God calls us to continually renew ourselves, improve our behaviors, and be open to new ways of doing things that are more mindful of future generations. This is an important legislation that would move Maryland in a positive direction. 

Maryland will be considering a ban on foam so that:

  • 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!”

Click here for a fact sheet about the ban on polystyrene.