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D.C. Council Approves Bill Banning Styrofoam Containers

Proponents of the Styrofoam ban demonstrated outside the Wilson Building on Monday.
Photo by Twitter user Kara Davis
Proponents of the Styrofoam ban demonstrated outside the Wilson Building on Monday.

In D.C., the Styrofoam container will soon disappear.

On Monday, the D.C. Council approved a broader environmental bill that includes a provision banning restaurants, take-outs, supermarkets, and food trucks from using single-use disposable containers made of polystyrene foam — better known as Styrofoam.

The ban, which would follow similar measures passed in San Francisco and Seattle, would take effect in 2016, two years earlier than Mayor Vincent Gray had requested. The ban also calls on restaurants and cafes to provide only recyclable or compostable food ware by 2018.

The ban on Styrofoam containers follows the imposition of a five-cent tax on plastic bags in 2010. The tax has raised some $2 million per year for the cleanup of the Anacostia River, as well as prompting many shoppers to switch to reusable bags. According to a 2008 study by the D.C. Department of Environment, 11 percent of the refuse in the Anacostia River was Styrofoam cups, plates and chunks.

Proponents of the ban say that it will lead to less garbage in the Anacostia River, while critics say that it will raise operating costs for restaurants and cafes that offer food to go.

The measure has to be signed by Gray and undergo a 30-day congressional review.

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