BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — The Baltimore City Council has moved a bill forward that would ban plastic foam containers for carryout food and drinks — a measure that Mayor Catherine Pugh has supported.

Our media partner The Baltimore Sun reports a vote Monday night unanimously gave preliminary approval to the bill. The ban aims to cut down on litter in the city.

The bill would create criminal fines for businesses that fail to comply with the ban on containers made of polystyrene foam, a substance more commonly known by its brand name, Styrofoam.

Styrofoam has long been used as an inexpensive convenience, but it isn’t free of other costs. It’s a major source of Baltimore’s litter, with much of it washing off streets and alleys and into the Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. And it isn’t cheap to recycle.

Mercedes Thompson, a student organizer at a rally at Baltimore City Hall in support of the bill earlier this month, said “Styrofoam is recyclable, but it’s extremely difficult.”

“You have to collect all the Styrofoam, clean it, wash it and take it to a recycling facility,” Thompson added.

Talk of a Styrofoam ban has been around for years, but backers think this time is different.

“I think there is momentum,” says Blue Water Baltimore Executive Director Jenn Aiosa. “We are seeing a lot of interest in the business community. We are also delivering the testimony of over 100 businesses who say they are willing to make the change.”

Over the past three years, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Washington, D.C. have imposed bans on polystyrene foam products.

More than 80 other cities across the country have also placed at least a partial ban on polystyrene foam.

The council’s final vote on the bill is slated for March — it then heads to the mayor’s desk for approval. Pugh has pledged to sign the bill into law after it was amended to give businesses 18 months to comply.

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