February 13, 2019

Senate Democrats Seek to Expand Environmental Protections, Reduce Polystyrene Use

In a Tuesday afternoon hearing of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, Senator Cheryl Kagan (District 17 – Montgomery) today presented legislation (Senate Bill 285) that would prohibit the sale of polystyrene food service products in Maryland’s restaurants, food service businesses, and schools.

A plastic product used in cups and other food containers, polystyrene is known to not biodegrade and has been proven to create detrimental environmental consequences for many years. Several studies have proven dire health impacts to both humans and wildlife. Polystyrene products have proven fatal to wildlife, and been known to cause numerous detrimental health impacts to humans including skin and respiratory irritation, headache, fatigue, and depression.

“We have reached the tipping point for banning polystyrene,” said Senator Cheryl Kagan. Noting that with local restrictions being in place in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Annapolis City, and soon Anne Arundel County, some 52.2% of Marylanders already live or will live in jurisdictions where polystyrene containers are prohibited for food service.  She followed: “This is the right thing to do for our environment.”

Kagan was joined in sponsorship of the legislation by twenty-six colleagues including Senators Augustine (District 47 – Prince George’s), Benson (District 24 – Prince George’s), Carter (District 41 – Baltimore City), Elfreth (District 30 – Anne Arundel), Ellis (District 28 – Charles), Feldman (District 15 – Montgomery), Ferguson (District 46 – Baltimore City), Griffith (District 25 – Prince George’s), Guzzone (District 13 – Howard), Hester (District 9 – Howard and Carroll), Kelley (District 10 – Baltimore County), King (District 39 – Montgomery), Kramer (District 19 – Montgomery), Lam (District 12 – Howard and Baltimore Counties), Lee (District 16 – Montgomery), Nathan-Pulliam (District 44 – Baltimore City and Baltimore County), Patterson (District 26 – Prince George’s), Peters (District 23 – Prince George’s), Pinsky (District 22 – Prince George’s), Rosapepe (District 21 – Prince George’s and Anne Arundel), Smith (District 20 – Montgomery), Waldstreicher (District 18 – Montgomery), Washington (District 43 – Baltimore City), West (District 42 – Baltimore County), Young (District 3 – Frederick County), and Zucker (District 14 – Montgomery).

Senate Bill 285 is cross-filed with House Bill 109 (sponsored by Delegate Brooke Lierman) and was heard in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 6, 2019. Both Senate Bill 285 and House Bill 109 await votes in their respective committees of origin.