Council to consider ban on foam cups, carryout containers
By By Luke Broadwater and The Baltimore Sun
Jun 11, 2013 at 9:52 PM
Fed up with foam cups floating in Baltimore's waterways, a City Council committee voted Tuesday to approve a ban on polystyrene foam products for carryout food and drink items within the city limits.
The measure, sponsored by Councilman James B. Kraft, would impose penalties on food service businesses for using products such as Styrofoam. It will now go to the full council Monday for a vote.
"No food service facility may use any disposable food service ware made from polystyrene for the purpose of allowing consumers to take away prepared foods or beverages from its premises," Kraft's bill states.
The measure also would ban city agencies from purchasing, acquiring or using polystyrene foam.
The bill is Kraft's latest effort to crack down on the foam cups, plates and takeout boxes littered throughout Baltimore.
"It's a people problem," he said. "Until we change the habits of people, what are we going to ban next?"
But Councilman Robert W. Curran, who backs the ban, said he'd prefer litter to be biodegradable.
"Most of the Styrofoam that ends up in the harbor comes from food service places," he said. "What would replace the Styrofoam is more biodegradable or recyclable and would not be around forever."
A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did not respond to a request for comment.
Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and other communities, principally on the West Coast, have imposed full or partial bans on foam containers, according to advocates. New York, Philadelphia and Boston are considering bans.
Victor Corbin, of the Fells Prospect Community Association, said when it rains he watches "cup after cup after cup" wash down the areas by his house.
"A majority of the trash is Styrofoam cups," he said. "It's a people problem, but it's also a city problem. Where's the enforcement?"
The bill is one of two high-profile measures the council is considering to combat litter.
City Councilman Brandon M. Scott introduced legislation Monday to impose a 10-cent fee on every plastic and paper bag distributed by merchants in the city — a move praised by environmentalists as a litter deterrent but decried by some business owners, who say it would hurt them and their shoppers.