Anne Arundel County joins polystyrene ban

Check your takeout containers. Anne Arundel County’s move to go “foam-free” is now in effect. Following in the steps of the City of Annapolis, the use of expanded polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, is prohibited at restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores, food trucks and other food-related businesses as of Feb. 28.

Violators face a warning, followed by fines ranging from $50 to $500. Within the City of Annapolis, non-compliance comes with a $100 fine for a first violation and $200 for subsequent ones. The city ban took effect Sept. 1.

Expanded polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic material that does not biodegrade or break apart. It is often found in waterways and can be dangerous for marine wildlife. When food is heated in a polystyrene foam container toxic chemicals can be released into the food. When exposed to sunlight it creates air pollutants.

A similar bill passed in the General Assembly of Maryland, which became the first state in the U.S. to ban the product. That prohibition takes effect July 1.

The late House Speaker Michael Busch considered it a personal achievement to pass the bill.

“I’m proud that Maryland has become the first state in the country to become foam free,” he said. “Maryland is continuing to lead the way on reducing litter and cleaning our waterways.”