WASHINGTON - Starting January 1, D.C. and Montgomery County businesses and organizations that serve food will no longer be able to use containers made of expanded polystyrene, which is commonly known as Styrofoam.
It is an effort to improve the environment. Foam litter is consistently one of the most prevalent types of trash pollution in the Anacostia River, according to city leaders.
"Foam is easily blown by wind or washed by rain into our storm drains and waterbodies," Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells said in a statement. "Over time, foam litter breaks into small pieces that are difficult to remove from the environment and are harmful when eaten by wildlife. Other pollutants like oil, grease, and heavy metals can adhere to these small pieces, causing the contaminants to bioaccumulate in the food chain.”
The ban will not necessarily mean an easy transition for business owners because they say compliant containers are more expensive.
“It has to be passed on to the customer, you know, because it's such a, such a big cost. You're talkin' just like I said, you're talkin' double the cost,” said Richard Shannon of Horace and Dickies Seafood.
Some foam products are exempt from the District’s ban, including products packaged outside the city, products used to package raw meat or seafood and products purchased in bulk for home use.
Businesses and organizations that distribute foam products after the ban takes effect could be fined.