As of January 1, District of Columbia businesses and organizations that serve food can no longer use containers or other food service products made of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as foam or Styrofoam™. Passed by the DC Council in June 2014, the ban is designed to reduce trash pollution in District, as foam litter is consistently one of the most prevalent types of trash pollution in the Anacostia River.
To ease the transition, the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) has conducted an extensive outreach campaign for businesses and organizations about the requirements of the ban. Efforts include door-to-door canvassing across the city, mailings to all regulated businesses, and creation of a web page with information about the ban and a list of vendors that sell compliant products.
“Foam is easily blown by wind or washed by rain into our storm drains and waterbodies,” reports DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “Over time, foam litter breaks into small pieces that are difficult to remove from the environment and are harmful when eaten by wildlife.” Another provision of the law requires businesses and organizations to use only recyclable or compostable disposable dining products by 2017, which will help the District achieve its Sustainable DC Plan goal of 80% waste diversion by 2032. [Parisien]