D.C., Montgomery Co. Ban Styrofoam Food Containers Starting Friday

As of Friday, there should be no more Styrofoam wrapped around your Kung Pao chicken or burger in D.C. or Montgomery County.

Both governments are banning the use of disposable containers made out of polystyrene -- better known as Styrofoam -- at any business that serves food. The ban includes take-out containers, bowls, plates, trays, cups and other items.

The bans take effect Jan. 1. And many food customers told News4 that they like the change.

"Everywhere in Seattle uses them -- all the companies switched to them," said one take-out customer at Farragut Square Tuesday.

As for Styrofoam containers? "Frankly, they're awful. I'd be much happier with something else," she said.

"I mean, I'm cool," said another eater. "As long as my food is covered, that's what matters to me."

Polystyrene doesn't decompose, and it can clog city waterways and sewers.

"It doesn't really go away," said said Tommy Wells, director of the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment. "And so it gets blown into the waterways, comes through storm drains and is just trash alongside the road."

Environmentalists have supported bans on the product in other cities; Takoma Park, Maryland already has a ban.

And the association that represents D.C.-area restaurants supports the ban, too.

"We certainly support and encourage members to be aware of sustainable practices," says Washington Metropolitan Restaurant Association director Kathy Hollinger. "Our members are in support of the change."

Restaurants that violate the ban will be warned, but on later violations they could face fines that start at $100 and go up to as much as $800.

"Hopefully, all of these stores and restaurants that are currently using Styrofoam are phasing it out right now," Wells said.

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