News from our Friends Across the Bay: Foam & Shrink Wrap
News from Plastic Free QAC (Queen Anne’s County)
Maryland’s Foam Ban Goes into Effect
As the first state in the country, October 1 marked the date Maryland’s ban on Styrofoam (polystyrene), went into effect. This means that restaurants, schools, and other foodservice outlets are prohibited from using foam containers for take-out food and foam cups for liquids.
This is great news for the environment because Styrofoam is not recyclable and often ends up as pollution on the side of the road or in our waterways [where it breaks up into tiny pieces wildlife mistakes for food]. Maryland Del. Brooke Lierman, who introduced the legislation and saw it through passage during the 2019 General Assembly session after two unsuccessful previous attempts, states that the public is demanding products that leave less damage to the environment. She is also behind the legislation to ban plastic bags, legislation that is expected to pass during the 2021 session.
The foam ban law was originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but because of COVID-19, it was delayed until October. However, July 1 did mark the date for making it illegal for retailers to sell these items. You may have noticed that Styrofoam cups, plates, and clamshells were taken off the shelves at the grocery and other stores.
Take-out food is now served in plastic or heavy cardboard. Some restaurants are concerned about the extra costs of these different service items, but Mande Gretzinger, the payroll specialist at the popular Kent Narrow’s restaurant, Fisherman’s Inn, stated that “while it is a little more costly, it hasn’t affected the restaurant greatly.” A word of warning, PFQAC advises you NOT to heat up your restaurant take-out food in the plastic container it comes in. Hot or warm plastic releases damaging additives into the human body.
But let us take a moment to celebrate the ban of food-related Styrofoam in Maryland and the end of these items that have caused so much pollution over the years.
Think Before You Shrink!
Shrink-wrapping is a popular way to protect your boat for the winter, but Plastic Free QAC encourages you to rethink the wrap. It is expensive and does not protect the boat from the cold freeze. Most importantly, plastic is a major pollutant, unless you recycle. Why not choose a reusable cover that lasts five to 10 years? A semi-custom cover for most boats under 30’ costs the same as two seasons of plastic wrap. Think about the environment—we all want to keep QAC beautiful.
Fortunately, for folks who feel more comfortable shrink-wrapping their boats, there is a responsible way to recycle the plastic wrap. It takes a little work and a little cost. The Marine Trades Association of Maryland (MTAM). MTAM sells boxes of 30 shrink-wrap bags at $15/bag. Ask your marina to organize other boaters to buy a bag for their shrink-wrap. (MTAM also offers half-boxes of 15 bags.)
- Consider not covering your boat this winter.
- Consider having a semi-custom reusable cover made that will last you five to 10 years.
- Consider recycling the shrink-wrap in the spring.
- OR consider storing your boat in a climate-controlled boat storage unit.