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1,028,000 Styrofoam containers counted in just one Maryland waterway

Data from 'Mr. Trash Wheel' in Baltimore’s Harbor fuels push for Styrofoam container ban statewide.

BALTIMORE — The solar and tide powered automated trash skimmer parked at one entrance to Baltimore’s Harbor called “Mr. Trash Wheel” has become an icon for cleaning up the region’s environment.

Now, stunning data being collected at the wheel makes a compelling case for Governor Larry Hogan to sign a bill passed by Maryland’s legislature to ban Styrofoam take-out food containers statewide.

The latest count has 1.028 million Styrofoam containers collected during the 5 years of wheel operations.

“We have actively supported it (the ban),” says Adam Lindquist, the director of the Baltimore Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative.  “We actually use data from Mr. Trash Wheel and photos from Mr. Trash wheel to help educate our elected officials about the impact Styrofoam is having on our waterways.”

Single-use foam products have been shown to account for as much as 42 percent of the waste found in Maryland waterways, according to Maryland Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan and Del. Brooke E. Lierman in a recent guest commentary for Maryland Matters.

The District of Columbia banned Styrofoam containers in 2014, but the Anacostia River remains plagued by foam litter. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have also placed restrictions on Styrofoam containers.

Maine became the first state in the nation to ban Styrofoam food containers on May 1.

Maryland stands poised to become the second after the General Assembly authorized a statewide ban during the 2019 session.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has not signed the bill.

Hogan is still evaluating its effects on both the environment and business, restaurants and suppliers who use Styrofoam products, according to a spokesperson for his office.

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