Washington, DC

Foam Info Sheet (PDF)

From a press release:

“December 30, 2015 – Starting January 1, 2016, District businesses and organizations that serve food will no longer be able to use containers or other food service products made of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as foam or Styrofoam™. Passed by the DC Council in June 2014, the ban will reduce trash pollution in the District’s waterways. Foam litter is consistently one of the most prevalent types of trash pollution in the Anacostia River.

“Foam is easily blown by wind or washed by rain into our storm drains and waterbodies,” said Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells. “Over time, foam litter breaks into small pieces that are difficult to remove from the environment and are harmful when eaten by wildlife. Other pollutants like oil, grease, and heavy metals can adhere to these small pieces, causing the contaminants to bioaccumulate in the food chain. The foam ban is an important part of the District’s ongoing efforts to reduce litter in our communities and to restore our rivers and waterbodies.”

Another provision of the law requires businesses and organizations to only use recyclable or compostable disposable dining products by 2017, which will help the District achieve its Sustainable DC Plan goal of 80% waste diversion by 2032.

To ease the transition, DOEE has conducted an extensive outreach campaign to educate businesses and organizations about the requirements of the ban. Efforts include door-to-door canvassing across all eight wards, mailings to all regulated businesses, and a web page with information about the ban and a list of vendors that sell compliant products.”

From DDOE:

“The District’s foam ban starts January 1, 2016.
DOEE is conducting outreach to businesses before the ban takes effect.
If you see a business using foam products, leave a tip or call (202) 645-6988.

Requirements of the Law

Effective January 1, 2016, it is illegal for businesses and organizations that serve food to use food service products made of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as foam or StyrofoamTM.

The law applies to any food service products designed for one-time use. These include take-out containers, bowls, plates, trays, cups, and other items.

The law does not apply to:

Food or beverages filled and sealed in foam containers before an entity receives them (e.g., foam cartons of eggs packaged outside of the District)
Materials used to package raw, uncooked, or butchered meat, fish, poultry, or seafood
Foam food service products purchased for home use

Regulated Entities
Business or organizations that sell or provide food are subject to the requirements of the law. Examples of regulated entities include, but are not limited to, restaurants, carryouts, cafes, delis, grocery stores, bars, cafeterias, and food trucks. Other examples include companies that provide free coffee to clients, non-profit organizations that host a breakfast and provide food for attendees, and churches that offer coffee to parishioners after a service.”


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