ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- 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 this month, 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 and hazardous 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. A recent study found that of all the polystyrene and other plastics ever made, 79 percent currently exist in landfills or in rivers, lakes and oceans. Pieces of plastic have been found in every corner of the planet, from alpine lakes in the Pyrenees to the deepest ocean trenches, and ingested by sea turtles and humans alike.
U.S. PIRG’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?”