ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — If you have leftovers after visiting a restaurant in Anne Arundel County, don’t expect a styrofoam container: a law banning food service businesses from using styrofoam took effect Friday.
The ban includes single-use containers like cups, plates, and trays.
A similar ban in Annapolis has been in effect since September and a statewide ban begins July 1.
Months before the county’s ban took effect, Anne Arundel Seafood started a rush to get on board.
“We are using these now instead of styrofoam trays to serve our steamed seafood on,” William Buddy Feifer said, showing off their new environmental-friendly plates.
Styrofoam made sense for the family-owned business: it was cheaper and kept the food hot, but when county leaders voted to ban the material because styrofoam could eventually end up in rivers and the bay and hurt fish, Feifer knew he had to change. His business depended on it.
“The benefit of course is it saves the bay and we are a seafood house, so it’s important for us to look into the future,” Feifer said.
The downside to the styrofoam ban is the cost: styrofoam is about 20 percent cheaper than what Anne Arundel Seafood now uses.
Despite that, Feifer supports the change.
Hundreds of tons of trash flow into Maryland waterways each year, according to the Healthy Harbor Initiative. If some of that material never breaks down, fish and other animals may mistake it for food.
“If there is too much, they can die. It actually blocks their digestive system,” said Laura Bankey, the vice president of conservation programs at the National Aquarium.
The aquarium has seen the effects firsthand.
“I have watched a female diamondback terrapin wade through plastic debris and foam to get to a place on the shoreline where she can lay her eggs,” Bankey said.
Back at Anne Arundel Seafood, some loyal customers didn’t even notice the change in containers.
“Any time that you can take care of the bay and the landfills and all, we have to think ahead,” Feifer said.
Businesses that violate the ban could be fined anywhere from $50 to $500.