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Washington mayor seeking ban on polystyrene food-service containers

November 11, 2013

Washington, D.C., already has a 5-cent plastic bag fee in place. Now the mayor is pushing for a ban on polystyrene foam.

Mayor Vincent Gray introduced the potential ban in a group of 11 potential laws aimed at various sustainability measures, according to city records. The law, dubbed the “Anacostia Pollution Prevention Act of 2013,” would prohibit the use of polystyrene containers for food service providers. The law, if passed, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

In a letter to the City Council, Gray said he aims to make the District of Columbia “the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the United States,” through the various environmental initiatives started in 2012.

“We have accomplished much in the past year and this package, coupled with the set of mayor’s orders I will promulgate will enable changes to the legislative and regulatory landscape to ensure that we move even further along on the path of making the District an international destination for people and investment, and a model of innovative policies and practices that improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for all District residents,” Gray wrote in the letter introducing the measure.

According to the measure, the mayor would define a range of compostable and recyclable materials that could be used in replace of PS.

“Reducing the use of polystyrene, which cannot be recycled or composted, will help clean the Anacostia and other waterways of polystyrene trash,” he wrote.

PS can be recycled, but collecting the material and finding collection locations can be difficult with very few communities accepting it as part of its curbside recycling program.