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Maryland lawmakers have positioned the state to become the first in the nation to ban foam food containers and cups.
A conference committee will work out the differences between the two bills, Del. Brooke Lierman, the sponsor of the House of Delegates version, told the Sun. Environmentalists say plastic foam breaks into tiny pieces, polluting waterways and streets.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the effort to stand up for our waterways, stand up for our neighborhoods, stand up for the world our kids will inherit,” Lierman said on the House floor, the Sun reported.
The proposal would then require the approval of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who has yet to take a position. Spokesperson Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill told the Sun that Hogan is “always willing to consider any piece of legislation that reaches his desk.”
If Hogan signs off, the ban would take effect on July 1, 2020. County officials could charge $250 fines for violations.
Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, told CNN a plastic foam ban burdens businesses.
“Not only will costs go up for restaurants and be passed onto consumers, but because comparable products weigh more and many cannot be recycled, costs will increase due to higher tipping fees (based on weight) at landfills,” Locklair Tolle said.
Some foam products would be allowed, the Sun reported, including those packaging raw meat. Lierman’s version also permits foam products packaged outside the state and polystyrene outside of food service.
Still, the sponsor of the senate bill told the Sun plastic foam is not recyclable nor biodegradable. Marine life also eat foam thinking it’s food, Ashley Van Stone, executive director of Trash Free Maryland, told CNN. The toxins are then passed on to people through the food chain.
Numerous cities across the nation have already banned single-use foam food containers, including New York City, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Santa Monica, California. Within the state, Prince George’s, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties have prohibited foam products, the Sun reported.
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