Say your goodbyes to Styrofoam.
Anne Arundel County passed a bill to ban polystyrene products from any food service establishment by January of 2020.
The success comes eight months after former County Executive Steve Schuh vetoed similar legislation.
“As most of us live around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, I think this is a really important step forward,” said the bill’s sponsor, District 6 Councilwoman Lisa Rodvein.
Introducing the debate on February 19, Rodvein argued that the bill was necessary to “take out of our landfills a material that really has no biodegradable traits.”
Challengers parried with their doubts.
Cost was one issue. District 3 Councilman Nathan Volke and District 5 Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler wondered how schools could generate extra revenue as polystyrene trays are about five cents cheaper than alternative trays.
Rodvein countered that an additional five cents charged for school lunches amounted to only $4.50 a student per year. “I think a lot of people would agree that spending an extra $4.50 per year for the sake of our environment would be $4.50 very well spent,” she said.
The Maryland Retailers Association and the Restaurant Association of Maryland also shared worries about the bill’s potential harm to small businesses and grocery stores.
Citizen supporters repeated that the environmental cost of polystyrene outweighed its lesser cost.
Among them, Brynn Bogarde, president of the Eco Action Team at Broadneck High School, said, “We have all these environmental classes where they teach us how bad styrofoam is. Then we go to lunch and have to use these trays to get food. It’s frustrating because it’s going to be our generation that has to fix the problem.”
The meeting concluded with five votes for and two votes against. The county bill passed, and County Executive Steuart Pittman has promised no veto. A similar bill circulates the Maryland General Assembly. If the state passes the polystyrene ban, Maryland will be the first state in the country to do so.