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Baltimore City Styrofoam Ban Put On Hold

BALTIMORE (WJZ)--Baltimore's City Council backed off on a ban of Styrofoam products used by restaurants and carry-outs.

Alex Demetrick explains that's a setback for some and a reprieve for others.

It's the litter that lasts forever. The chemicals that make Styrofoam so good at holding things also keeps it from breaking down in the environment, and in Baltimore, it is part of the huge trash flow that floats into the Inner Harbor whenever it rains.

"We don't need Styrofoam on our streets and in our harbor and in our streams for hundreds of years," said Baltimore Harbor water keeper Tina Meyers.

Baltimore's City Council looked ready to ban Styrofoam use in restaurants and carry-outs, but backed off at the last-minute, partly in response to businesses who say using different containers would cost four times as much as Styrofoam.

"In these economic times, it's going to be tough on the independent operators, for one-unit operators, to really get through this," said Jimmy Filipidis of Jimmy's Restaurant.

One-unit means small like food trucks. The Smoking Swine dishes up 150 meals a day in eight cent Styrofoam. Upgrading to a 32 cent container would add up.

"We have to use the most economic solution available. Styrofoam's kinda got us," said Drew Pumphrey of the Smoking Swine.

"Every day, they come out and clean up the trash from the trash boom at the end of the Jones Falls, and they found about 25 percent of the total trash is Styrofoam," said Meyers.

That still leaves 75 percent of the trash, and some on the council think banning Styrofoam is too piecemeal.

"I would support a stronger environmental bill that would take into account many of the other plastics and containers," said City Councilman Carl Stokes.

Stokes would also like to see anti-littering campaigns start in schools.

"Generally it's the young people who say let's recycle, and the parents say 'Oh, OK,'" said Stokes.

Because this mess might never be legislated away.

Council backers of the Styrofoam ban said they haven't given up, and will try reworking it in committee.

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