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Styrofoam - Friend or Foe?


Razors Edge
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The Great State of Maryland (the MD in @MickinMD) is on the cusp of banning styrofoam which will make it the FIRST state (but cities already have) to do so.  The "block foam" is an issue as well, but that isn't part of the ban. We got a doggie bag the other night from a local Thai place and the rice came in a styrofoam container :(

Maryland is closer to being the first state in the nation to officially ban Styrofoam. The bill banning the sale of foam used to consume food products passed the state Senate in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Critics contend the legislation falls short of banning all foam products and doesn’t make the environmental impact it appears to. Instead, they say, it will hurt small businesses.

“It’s the wave of the future. … Let’s make Maryland foam-free,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat representing District 17 (Gaithersburg and Rockville).

Before her colleagues approved Senate Bill 285 in a 34-to-13 vote Tuesday, Kagan laid out the specifics of the legislation, which bans the sale of expanded polystyrene food service product — commonly known by the trademark name Styrofoam. The bill also bans any sale of food in cups, plates or even egg cartons made of polystyrene.

“It cannot be recycled. It doesn’t break down. It doesn’t biodegrade,” Kagan said.

Expanded polystyrene is 95 percent air, so once it’s processed and cleaned, Kagan said, it’s not worth the cost of recycling. She admits the bill is “narrow,” as it doesn’t ban the so-called block foam in which electronics and appliances often come packaged.

“We’re just saying small Maryland businesses can’t use these products. But the big, large businesses from outside the state can ship these products into Maryland,” said the Republican minority whip, Sen. Stephen Hershey (who represents District 36 — Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties).

Others took issue with how small farmers, who use foam egg cartons, and non-profits, like churches who buy Styrofoam in bulk, will be affected. The bill gives businesses and non-profits one year to use and dispose of any expanded polystyrene they may have already purchased.

Some cities in Maryland, including those Kagan represents, already have banned polystyrene. On a larger scale, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties have also banned foam. Officials in D.C. banned it in 2014.

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Makes  sense with the Chesapeake a major influencer for the state.   I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen used a styrofoam product at a restaurant.

With all the rain you should see the crap that washes up on our beaches....

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20 hours ago, Razors Edge said:

The Great State of Maryland (the MD in @MickinMD) is on the cusp of banning styrofoam which will make it the FIRST state (but cities already have) to do so.  The "block foam" is an issue as well, but that isn't part of the ban. We got a doggie bag the other night from a local Thai place and the rice came in a styrofoam container :(

Maryland is closer to being the first state in the nation to officially ban Styrofoam. The bill banning the sale of foam used to consume food products passed the state Senate in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Critics contend the legislation falls short of banning all foam products and doesn’t make the environmental impact it appears to. Instead, they say, it will hurt small businesses.

“It’s the wave of the future. … Let’s make Maryland foam-free,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat representing District 17 (Gaithersburg and Rockville).

Before her colleagues approved Senate Bill 285 in a 34-to-13 vote Tuesday, Kagan laid out the specifics of the legislation, which bans the sale of expanded polystyrene food service product — commonly known by the trademark name Styrofoam. The bill also bans any sale of food in cups, plates or even egg cartons made of polystyrene.

“It cannot be recycled. It doesn’t break down. It doesn’t biodegrade,” Kagan said.

Expanded polystyrene is 95 percent air, so once it’s processed and cleaned, Kagan said, it’s not worth the cost of recycling. She admits the bill is “narrow,” as it doesn’t ban the so-called block foam in which electronics and appliances often come packaged.

“We’re just saying small Maryland businesses can’t use these products. But the big, large businesses from outside the state can ship these products into Maryland,” said the Republican minority whip, Sen. Stephen Hershey (who represents District 36 — Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties).

Others took issue with how small farmers, who use foam egg cartons, and non-profits, like churches who buy Styrofoam in bulk, will be affected. The bill gives businesses and non-profits one year to use and dispose of any expanded polystyrene they may have already purchased.

Some cities in Maryland, including those Kagan represents, already have banned polystyrene. On a larger scale, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties have also banned foam. Officials in D.C. banned it in 2014.

I'm against getting rid of styrofoam. Otherwise lab chemists won't be able to play the prank on new lab techs where they give them a styrofoam cup and ask them to fill it up with acetone (basically finger nail polish remover).  Before they can get back to you with it the acetone dissolves the cup.

I live in Anne Arundel County and whenever I get hot food in a doggie bag or for carryout in A.A. County from various restaurants (G & M's crabcake platters, etc.) or carryouts (Chinese, Subs/fries platters, etc.) I often get styrofoam or a close approximation now.  But it doesn't seem to put a dent in the small restaurants that use alternatives to styrofoam.

In all seriousness, it would help if all similar plastic foam products were replaced by greener alternatives. I was once a liaison from the County Government to the county's representatives in the Maryland State Legislature and spent several years working with and observing how Senate and State House of Delegates bills were created, sponsors, gained support by trade-offs, etc. This sounds like an old Maryland Senate trick where the bill would fail if all those products were included so the Senator sponsored a relatively meaningless bill so she can then brag to constituents about it, most of whom will have no clue of its weakness.

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WAAAYYY overdue!  That stuff is horrible and should never have been invented.

And BS on the "wah it's gonna hurt small business and churches".   We made the decision at our church to ban styrofoam a while back.  Now we use cardboard and paper.  About zero cost difference.  We were also able to purchase dinnerware and a dishwasher for social events, the payback on that is only a few years.  I'm now pushing to get rid of bottled water.  We're a church, we should be stewards of the earth!

Styrofoam could be banned tomorrow and in no time at all we would forget we ever "needed" it.

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28 minutes ago, 12string said:

WAAAYYY overdue!  That stuff is horrible and should never have been invented.

And BS on the "wah it's gonna hurt small business and churches".   We made the decision at our church to ban styrofoam a while back.  Now we use cardboard and paper.  About zero cost difference.  We were also able to purchase dinnerware and a dishwasher for social events, the payback on that is only a few years.  I'm now pushing to get rid of bottled water.  We're a church, we should be stewards of the earth!

Styrofoam could be banned tomorrow and in no time at all we would forget we ever "needed" it.

I'm guessing that it takes a little while and some effort to do anything beyond "get by" for a lot of folks.  I think, if a person planned ahead, they could get their "doggie bag" in their own reusable Tupperware, but I'm not sure about at a take-out joint where keeping something hot is a goal.  We'll see, and there obviously are options, but styrofoam was "easy" and "cheap", so something that might be neither becomes the norm.  

I especially dislike when the styrofoam breaks down into the little balls and they become ultra-static clingey.  

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Will put the mail order beef places, such as Kansas City Steaks and Omaha Steaks, unable to pack in dry ice inside a Styrofoam box and deliver to customers in Maryland plus any other Stated that enact similar. Those boxes are industrial strength, making those cheap (one or two use) ice chest you buy at Walgreens look pathetic.

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4 hours ago, Razors Edge said:

I especially dislike when the styrofoam breaks down into the little balls and they become ultra-static clingey.  

We got a bunch of new lighting fixtures last month. A new chandelier, ceiling and wall mounted lights, etc. little styrofoam balls are still being found throughout the house. :ban:

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13 hours ago, Tizeye said:

Will put the mail order beef places, such as Kansas City Steaks and Omaha Steaks, unable to pack in dry ice inside a Styrofoam box and deliver to customers in Maryland plus any other Stated that enact similar. Those boxes are industrial strength, making those cheap (one or two use) ice chest you buy at Walgreens look pathetic.

Not an issue by any stretch. Are the boxes built TOO sturdily because there is no reason not to with styrofoam? I also don't suspect the laws apply to shipped items. Meal delivery services have no problem shipping meat and fish all over the US in cardboard and insulated boxes.  Looking at Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, I see info on recycling their packaging:

image.thumb.png.37c32a5827453a77cbee5161f0b225a7.png

But Omaha Steaks also discusses why they use the containers they do and what to do with their containers (and the link to the "recycle" gives some interesting tips):

Our rugged, reusable cooler - like aluminum, glass and paper - can be recycled time and time again. Many of our customers enjoy reusing their coolers at picnics, at the beach or for storage. If you can't find a "re-use" for your cooler, please call your local recycling center to see if they will accept it. For more information on your recycling efforts, visit www.omahasteaks.com/recycle.
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