Dear Members of the General Assembly,
We are writing on behalf of the members of our organizations to urge you to vote in favor of HB109/SB285, a statewide ban on expanded polystyrene foam food service packaging. Expanded polystyrene foam, commonly known as EPS foam, is a significant contributor to litter in the state of Maryland. EPS foam is insidious. It is lightweight and breaks up easily into small pieces that are nearly impossible to clean up from our neighborhoods and waterways. EPS foam is a microplastic, "small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life”.
A 2014 study from the University of Maryland found microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay. Additional studies in 2018 have found microplastics in aquatic species and even beer. Currently, researchers at the University of Maryland are assessing the impact on human health when we consume fish that have remnants of these microplastics.
EPS foam contaminates our waterways and streets, and is a product that if disposed of properly, can only end up in a landfill. Once in a landfill, it takes up space and does not degrade over time. Governor Hogan’s Executive Order on zero waste policies in Maryland requires the state to increase its diversion rates and decrease expansion of landfills. Continued use of a product that can only end up in a landfill, if it’s not littered, is not how we meet Governor Hogan’s waste reduction goals.
As organizations representing environmental groups, businesses, faith-based groups, students, and more, we are calling on you to vote in favor of HB109/SB285 . A statewide ban on EPS foam makes sense for the environment, for businesses, and for consumers. Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Baltimore City, Rockville, and Takoma Park have joined 115 jurisdictions across the United States that have banned food-grade foam. We hope that Maryland will follow the lead of their local governments and ban EPS foam statewide.
Sincerely,Trash Free Maryland