ANNAPOLIS (ANN) – The polystyrene containers, which are used for school lunch trays and takeout containers in many restaurants, may soon be a thing of the past in the county. A second attempt is underway by Democrats in the county to ban the containers, which are used for school lunches and takeout in may local restaurants. Unlike last year, this time the bill is likely to pass.
Proponents of the ban say that polystyrene negatively impacts the environment. The substance isn’t biodegradable, and fish can mistake it for food.
As you may recall, Democrats passed a bill last year, but it was vetoed by then-County Executive Steve Schuh, a Republican, who argued the decision was a tax on businesses.
Now with a Democrat in the county executive office, environmentally friendly options like paper trays may soon be required. Opponents continue to argue that there is no federal ban on plastic trays, and that the cost of the more environmentally friendly option would mean an increase from 3 cents for each polystyrene container to as much as 10 cents for any alternative — an additional $290,000 to $676,000 for the public school system.
The school district would then pass the added costs on to students who do not receive free or reduced lunch, which means about 68 percent of students would be covering the cost, a burden officials say would be unfair for only some students to have to take on.
If passed, businesses and the school district would have until 2020 to find alternative options.