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Need to Know

Maryland Becomes Second State to Ban Plastic Foam Containers

In less than a month, Maryland has joined Maine in passing the legislation.

Maryland’s statewide ban on polystyrene foam cups and containers will officially go into law without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature. In March, Maryland became the first state in the country to pass a foam ban through its state legislature. Following Maine’s lead earlier in May, Maryland is now the second state to have a foam ban on the books.

Polystyrene foam—commonly referred to as Styrofoam—is one of the most common forms of single-use plastic. Less than 3 percent of it is recycled, and once in landfills or the natural environment, it persists for hundreds of years. In a single year, Americans throw out 25 billion polystyrene foam cups, part of the 8 million tons of plastic dumped in waterways every year.

U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Zero Waste Director Alex Truelove issued the following statement in response to the new Maryland law:

“What happened in Maine earlier this month was only the beginning. With Maryland’s foam ban becoming law today and several other states considering similar action, the movement toward a plastic-free future is accelerating. We urge all other states to keep the momentum going.

For years now, Maryland has been a leader when it comes to addressing our plastic pollution crisis. I’m proud of our members, coalition partners and elected officials. And I’m especially proud of our colleagues at Environment Maryland who knocked on more than 40,000 doors across the state and collected more than 7,000 petition signatures in support of a statewide foam ban.

Nothing we use should for five minutes should be allowed to pollute our planet for hundreds of years. In less than a month, we’ve seen the great states of Maryland and Maine agree. And to that I say—who’s next?”

Additionally, Maryland resident and Oceana Chief Policy Officer Jacqueline Savitz said: “With this action, Maryland is taking a leading role among states in tackling the plastics crisis. We depend so heavily on the Bay and Atlantic Coast, it's appropriate that our state is out front. Consumer goods companies must own reducing the amount of plastics they are forcing into commerce—and this new law will help to make sure that happens.”

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