DC has followed the lead of Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities by implementing a styrofoam ban, in effect since January 1. All businesses and institutions are prohibited from distributing and selling containers made of polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam.
The DC Council proposed this idea in an attempt to improve the local environment. Foam is easily blown into rivers, such as the Potomac and Anacostia, destroying habitats for many organisms as a result. Furthermore, foam is extremely harmful to animals when digested, with the potential to cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem. Polystyrene has also been linked to cancer.
However, protecting the environment does not come at a cheap cost. Restaurants have been forced to purchase containers that are in compliance with the ban, and the transition has been relatively expensive. Small businesses are especially feeling the strain. Consumers should be prepared to pay higher prices, because the cost of alternative materials is steadily rising.
Nevertheless, a significant number of people support the ban, regardless of the higher prices imposed by many businesses. Jamir White, a 5 year resident of the District, stated “I’m glad the government is taking steps to protect the environment before the situation gets any worse. In the long run, this will benefit our community.”
Montgomery County has also proposed a similar ban, expected to take effect on January 1, 2017. The Montgomery County Council enacted Bill 41-14 back in January of 2015, prohibiting all food service businesses from using Styrofoam foodservice ware, and the sale of Styrofoam loose fill packaging, otherwise known as packing peanuts. County agencies and contractors are already expected to use recyclable or compostable foodservice ware, and all other businesses in the county are to follow suit by early next year.
Businesses and organizations not in compliance with the ban face harsh fines.
If you are interested, you can visit the Department of Environmental Protection’s website to find a list of recommended alternative products that are either recyclable or compostable.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Inuri Abeysekara of Sherwood High School