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Maryland Senate Passes Ban on Foam Plates, Cups

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The state Senate voted Tuesday to ban the sale of foam food and beverage containers. If the measure passes the House, Maryland would be the first state to pass a statewide ban on the products.

The ban covers expanded polystyrene cups, plates, takeout containers and egg cartons.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said used products end up in rivers and in the Chesapeake Bay, where fish and other wildlife eat them.

“It infects them. We ingest them. The Styrofoam retains toxic chemicals. It cannot be recycled. It does not break down. It does not biodegrade,” she said during Tuesday’s floor debate.

During the debate, opponents — most of them Republicans — painted the ban as arbitrary and ineffective.

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings said the bill has too narrow a focus to have much impact.

“Let’s talk about all the other Styrofoam that you get in this world,” Jennings said. “Anybody who’s ordered a TV, a computer, anything that comes to you comes with an incredible amount of Styrofoam packaged with it. We’re not touching that.”

The bill passed the Senate with 34 votes. If it passes the House, the products will be banned starting in July 2020.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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