Mayor Gray Signs Bill Banning Styrofoam Use in District Effective Jan. 1, 2016


From a press release:

“Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed the “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2014” into law, which advances several key sustainability initiatives including banning the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) in the District effective January 1, 2016. The law will require restaurants, carry-outs, food trucks and other entities that serve food to use compostable or recyclable food service products. Styrofoam is harmful to fish and other organisms in the District’s waterways. Other cities that have banned polystyrene to preserve the environment include Seattle and San Francisco.

Mayor Gray also kicked off a multi-million dollar, multi-year effort to clean up the Anacostia River. The effort, called For a Cleaner Anacostia River, will sample and analyze sediment in the river bed to determine the extent and source of contamination and provide recommendations for the best approach to clean up the river.

The “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2014” will enhance the natural and built environments, invest in a diverse clean economy, and reduce disparities among residents to create an educated, equitable, and prosperous city. Specifically, the bill will

· Advance energy efficiency in the District by requiring public utilities to provide electronic and aggregated data for energy reporting;

· Expand access to transportation to meet the needs of a growing population;

· Enhance environmental education and made it more accessible to children;

· Require employers in the District with more than 20 employees to offer access to the IRS allowed pre-tax transit deduction, transit subsidies or employer-provided vanpools to employees;

· Require a new regulatory scheme for urban beekeeping that will encourage responsible maintenance of bee hives; and

· Require land developers to pay for quick replacement of removed trees.

The clean-up effort aims to repair the Anacostia River, transforming it into a resource that residents can fully enjoy. The Anacostia River study area consists of the tidal portion of the river from the northwest branch and the northeast branch confluence in Prince George’s County to the Potomac River. The objectives are to determine the nature and extent of the contamination, evaluate the human health and ecological risks, and develop clean-up approaches to restore the Anacostia River.

Acknowledging past efforts to clean up the Anacostia River, Director Anderson said, “We will build on several notable studies done over the past 20 years to restore this river. It’s a long, arduous task, but if we are to return this invaluable natural resource to residents of the District, we must make that investment now.” The D.C. Council has recommended that DDOE adopt and publish a remedy for remediation of the contaminated sediment in the Anacostia River by June 30, 2018.”

29 Comment

  • The coffee cups I get every morning made of flimsy paper with a regular drip at the place where the cover is supposed to form a good seal tells me we’re not ready for this… A solid recycling plan would have been a better move in my opinion. Dunkin Donuts cups never leak for me unless the cover is not secured.

    • To my knowledge, most recycling programs do not accept styrofoam because it’s extremely difficult to recycle.

    • jburka

      There are two crazy-complicated ways of avoiding this:
      1) Attach the lid so the drinking orifice is opposite the seam
      2) Use a freakin’ reusable cup already!

    • I agree, an environmentally-responsible alternative to styrofoam has yet to be invented.

    • One option would be using slightly more expensive heavier quality paper cups instead of flimsy ones. Paper isn’t going to have the temperature regulation of styrofoam, but it doesn’t have to be flimsy.

      • I get usually get the small coffee at Dunkin Donuts which comes in a paper cup. I haven’t had a problem with it.

  • This is a great step for the Mayor to take, cementing his efforts as a sustainability leader. More could be and needs to be done, and here’s hoping that either candidate Bowser or Catania make SOME sort of statement about where energy, climate and sustainability issues fall in their mayoral platform.

  • Bad for small businesses (and the customers to whom they’ll pass on the increased expense), unless there’s some kind of accompanying tax incentive.

    • Protecting our environment isn’t free. If I have to pay 2 cents more per cup of coffee I gladly will. Styrofoam is horrible.

      • Same! you already pay a fortune for coffee when you buy it in a shop – what’s another couple of cents to save the environment? I fully support this and think it’s great.

    • what do you think the increased expense would be for this? half a cent?

  • Good move.
    Now if only we could get a deposit program on aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastic bottles, so that more of them would be properly disposed of and not thrown on sidewalks and in gutters…

    • Yes, this. And it needs to include water bottles, which is something most bottle deposit laws don’t (they were mostly passed in the 70s, when no one drank bottled water). There is a truly astonishing number of plastic water bottles in the Anacostia.

    • A deposit program would be a disaster. I spent a summer in Michigan years ago and remember the lines at grocery stores with people and their shopping carts piled high with recyclables. I have better things to do on a Saturday than spend hours (yes, hours) waiting in line to turn in my aluminum cans.

      • Your time may be too valuable, but that’s the beauty of a deposit program – it gives an incentive to homeless people to use their free time to clean up our streets and parks.

      • Typical DC elitist response. MY time is too important for the environment.

  • I applaud this as one of the few things Grey has done.

  • Boooooo!!! Just because you only drink $20 dollar a cup Copi Luak brewed by dudes with striped shirts and handlebar mustaches out of a Logan Circle pop-up doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy donuts and sweet Hazelnut goodness! Hater! 😛

    • does DD have reusable mugs you could purchase and provide when you visit them for your morning beverage goodness, to avoid the waste of a disposable cup altogether?

      • Yeah, but I don’t have a really convenient way to wash them… What most people don’t realize is that paper cups still have a wax & plastic lining in them as well…

      • I’ve also seen people bring in their own non-DD reusable travel cup and the DD staff will fill it up. They don’t care where your cup comes from; in fact, it will save the franchisee money by not wasting materials.

  • How about plastic bags too??

  • how am i supposed to carry my chicken wings from the Chinese Carry Out place???? Seriously its hot grease

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