Washington DC has taken a major environmental initiative by banning all Styrofoam containers and cups from public eating establishments in the city. The ban went into effect at the start of 2016, forcing all restaurants in the nation’s capital to find alternative materials for takeout meals.
The ban affects all non-biodegradable foam containers that are designed for one-time use in restaurants. The requirement does not apply to products that are pre-sealed or packing materials that are used for meats. The law primarily impacts restaurants that use foam containers and cups for to-go meals.
Washington DC isn’t the first city in the United States to place a ban on foam materials in restaurants. Similar actions have also been taken by Portland, OR and Amherst, MA, as well as other cities.
The Washington DC Department of Energy and Environment has stated that foam materials represent some of the most common type of waste found in the Anacostia River. The ban should help to revitalize cleanup efforts of the river.
Officials have stated that the ban on foam materials will be enforced using various spot checks to identify offenders. There will be an initial warning and a grace period before increasingly severe fines are handed out.
Containers that are designed for one-time usage, but that are not made of foam, will still be allowed in restaurants. Additionally, city officials have started encouraging eating establishments to make use of recyclable and compostable materials instead. Citizens have also been advised to report any businesses that do not comply with the new mandate.
Styrofoam materials are mostly non-recyclable, causing them to rapidly clutter landfills. They have also been known to release harmful chemicals into the world’s oceans. By taking this action, Washington DC is making a major leap towards a cleaner environment. Expect more cities to follow suit by also banning such containers in the near future.