We have come to realize that winning the battle against climate change is not about doing something grandiose, it’s about the little wins along the way that add up to something tremendous.
It seems as if Maryland has taken a step in the right direction and we are all going to benefit from it. Restaurants in Maryland are now prohibited from using Styrofoam containers for take-out and delivery. They are the first state to enact a ban on the products.
The Democratic delegate Brooke Lierman sponsored the bill in the Maryland House last year. In 2019, the bill was passed and it was supposed to go into effect on July 1. Due to COVID-19, restaurants were given a respite.
On October 1, the law officially took effect. Any foam containers made from polystyrene, including bowls, cups, and any type of take-out trays are banned for restaurant use in Maryland.
You may not be familiar with the term polystyrene plastic, but you do know it as Styrofoam. Petrochemicals are used to make Styrofoam and it breaks down at a very slow rate. In fact, it can’t even be considered biodegradable.
The Environmental Action Association says that any Styrofoam in the landfills will still be there half a millennium from now. Fish and other animals may ingest the foam when it ends up in the ocean, resulting in serious health issues or fatalities. After humans ingest the fish that ate the plastic, it can also harm their health.
The chemicals that are used to create those foam containers can also leach out into our drinks and food. Considering styrene is used to make the foam and it is a carcinogen, it’s obvious that it is not a good idea to use it with your food.
Maryland has the honor of being the first state to enact such a ban. Maine, on the other hand, passed the legislation before Maryland in 2019, and the bill was set into law on May 1, 2019. The signing of the state bill in Maryland occurred later in the month, but the law in Maine doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2021.
Foam containers have been banned on a city level, including in New York City. They even banned the use of packing peanuts. The Big Island also saw a ban in Hawai’i County.
“Single-use plastics are overrunning our oceans and bays and neighborhoods,” Maryland’s Lierman said to CNN. “We need to take dramatic steps to start stemming our use and reliance on them … to leave future generations a planet full of wildlife and green space.”
Although many are applauding this step, there are also some who claim that it will place financial stress on restaurants.
According to a statement from The American Chemistry Council: “Polystyrene foam packaging and containers provide business owners and consumers with a cost-effective and environmentally preferable choice that is ideal for protecting food and preventing food waste, particularly when used for food service.”
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