BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s styrofoam ban is now in effect, an effort Baltimore City Council talked about for years. It became a reality on Saturday.

One of the numerous businesses making the switch is Jay’s Deli in Midtown, where drinks are now served in plastic cups.

“It’s better for the user, but not necessarily better for the environment,” said Phillip Quick with Jay’s Restaurant Group.

Quick said with thin margins, the ban, which then-Mayor Catherine Pugh signed into law in April 2018 and applies to all food service businesses. will likely cost his business thousands.

“We don’t want to raise prices, because we don’t want people to go somewhere else, but sometimes that’s really the only option,” he said.

Meanwhile, at Mr. Trash Wheel, the city’s trash interceptor, Adam Lindquist with Waterfront Partnership said the foam is one of the prevalent forms of litter because it is not biodegradable and hard to recycle.

“It’s not just one piece of litter. One styrofoam cup becomes 100 pieces of litter,” Lindquist said.

The city’s health department will enforce the ban during normal checks at businesses. Fines start at $200.

“The trash that ends up at Mr. Trash Wheel doesn’t just come up from the city. It comes from the surrounding county as well. So, a statewide ban is really what we need to fully address the scale of the problem,” Lindquist said.

He said one thing that makes styrofoam so bad for the environment in Baltimore is unlike plastic bottles, it is not stopped by grates at storm drains but instead breaks down. Once it gets into the water, marine life may mistake its small pellets as food.

A statewide ban will go into effect next year.

Paul Gessler

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