Annapolis says goodbye to Styrofoam as the ban takes effect this month.
Plastic foam—or, polystyrene, otherwise known as Styrofoam—was officially banned in Annapolis last October. But you may have still seen some or many Styrofoam takeout boxes floating around throughout this past year. That's because a grace period came along with the ban, allowing restaurants to gear up (or down) and prepare for the law going into effect on September 1, 2019. In case you haven't noticed yet, you'll start seeing places like restaurants, food trucks, grocery stores, and even school cafeterias start switching over to paper containers, cups, plates, and trays.
The Pros and Cons
Plastic foam has been problematic and preoccupied lawmakers' and environmentalists' minds for a long time. It's a petroleum-based product that doesn't biodegrade. Basically, all it's capable of once it's been discarded is breaking down into tiny little pieces that float through our water supply—yuck. Honestly, guys, I can't remember the last time I said, "I could really go for a nice tall glass of petroleum water." So banning Styrofoam is a definite plus in that sense. But the Styrofoam ban is not without its opponents ...
"...Feels like it's melting."
The paper containers break down. And, yes, that's a major positive for the environment (no petroleum water!) but it does mean that your paper straw starts getting soggy as you're sipping on your soda. The heat and steam from hot food in your takeout box weakens the container. However, it can still transport your food and if you suck down a little bit of paper with your iced coffee—hey, it's just fiber and we could all use a little more of that in our diets.
But the other major con—expense. Small and local businesses will no doubt feel a little bit of a strain on their profit margins. The owner of Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs, Kevin Blonder estimates that the cost of switching over to more biodegradable food containers is "200-500 percent more." Ouch!
But if you don't comply, that'll cost you too. First offenses will cost $100, but any offenses thereafter will be $200.
“We knew it was coming.”
Blonder, like many other restaurant owners and managers in Annapolis, has been gearing up for this change for weeks.
"We knew it was coming," Blonder says.
Back in May, reminder letters went out to all Annapolis food establishments, and then another was sent in July. Different places are feeling the changes differently. Some gradually started switching over; others have always been using biodegradable containers. National chains with branches in Annapolis aren't exempt either. Paper cups will take over at Dunkin' Donuts. I've noticed straws are already a thing of the past at several of the local Starbucks.
Starting this month, Styrofoam and the like will be a distant memory in Annapolis. So far there haven't been any reported issues from restaurants so let's keep our fingers crossed that this will be a positive change all around!
What do you think about the Styrofoam ban and how will it affect you? Let us know in the comments!