D.C. Mayor Signs Bill Banning Styrofoam

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A ban on styrofoam cups and containers goes into effect in January. News4's Mark Segraves has reaction. (Published Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014)

    Mayor Vincent Gray has signed a bill banning the use of plastic foam food containers in the District of Columbia.

    The ban on Styrofoam and similar materials is part of a larger environmental cleanup bill approved by the D.C. Council.

    "That means restaurants, carry-outs, food trucks and other places that serve food will be required to use compostable or recyclable food service products," Gray announced. 

    The District would join cities including Seattle and San Francisco that have banned plastic foam for environmental reasons. The ban will take effect Jan. 1, 2016. Meat trays in grocery stores will be exempt.

    Four years ago, the District imposed a 5-cent fee on plastic bags, which advocates credit for reducing the number of discarded bags that end up in the Anacostia River.

    The bill will cost small business owners like Aslam Hyat -- compostable containers are much pricier than styrofoam.

    "Mr. Mayor said to charge 5 cents [for plastic bags] to discourage people from using [them], for the environment. Now, Mr. Mayor's saying not to use styrofoam. Does he have suggestions?" Hyat, a manager at Capitol Hill's Pizza Boli's said.

    D.C. council member and former mayor Marion Barry said he's looking forward to a cleaner Anacostia. 

    "I'm looking forward to the day I can fish in the Anacostia and at one point, I can eat the fish I catch," Barry said.

    Local fisherman who see the pollution first-hand are happy about the new law.

    "It doesn't go back into the earth, so it should be banned," Jared Murrow said.

    Another impact of the law will be a requirement for many businesses -- with 20 or more employees -- to provide transportation alternatives to employees, like van pools or pre-taxed deductions for Metro fares. The law also encompasses new regulations for bee keepers.

    "Gives new meaning to a sting operation, doesn't it?" Gray joked, referencing last week's Washington Post article revealing the MPD's controversial sting operations, luring criminals for set-up robberies.