On February 25th the Howard County Board of Education voted to support Council Bill 13-2021 (Plastics Reduction Act). Here is information provided during the February 25th meeting:

Bill text: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx?LegislationID=12666 (click title of bill to download text)

Council Summary: AN ACT to prohibit the sale or distribution of certain single-use straws and stirrers, certain condiment packets and certain plastic food ware by certain food service facilities and retail business entities under specified circumstances; providing for exceptions to the prohibition; requiring certain establishments to have specified materials; providing for enforcement of the prohibition; specifying the duties of the Office of Community Sustainability; requiring fines to be placed in a certain Fund; and generally relating to waste reduction in the County.

HCPSS Analysis: As written, CB13-2021 would apply to HCPSS schools as our kitchens are facilities licensed by the County Health Officer within the definition of “food service facility.” Under prohibitions of the bill, such facilities may not distribute straws, plastic condiment packets or plastic food wares (made of specific materials defined in the bill), except when requested by a customer, fall into an exemption for prepackaged items, or required to accommodate disabilities under the ADA or other laws.

HCPSS Food and Nutrition Services staff indicates CB13-2021 has the potential to increase costs by approximately $120,000 per year for HCPSS food services operations. While staff supports the intent of this bill to be environmentally conscious, biodegradable items to replace plastic straws, plastic cups and other plastic foodwares would generally cost as much as 200 percent more than items currently used.

Bill Status/More Information: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx?LegislationID=12666

Following introduction by the Council on February 3, 2021, this bill had a public hearing on February 16, 2021.

POSITION RECOMMENDED BY HCPSS STAFF: For Discussion

POSITION RECOMMENDED BY LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE: SUPPORT

Committee Comments: Following discussion with Councilwoman Christiana Rigby during the Committee’s meeting to explain the specific exceptions that would be allowed under the bill, including the allowed distribution of straws and plasticware when requested – rather than the use of an alternative/biodegradable material – Food and Nutrition Services staff believes costs would not be as originally estimated. Savings may also be realized from potential decreased use/purchase of such items over time.

MOTION AND VOTING:

Move approval of the recommended legislative position for CB13-2021.

Motion by Vicky Cutroneo, second by Chao Wu.
Final Resolution: Motion Carries
Yea: Vicky Cutroneo, Christina Delmont-Small, Zachary F Koung, Yun Lu, Jennifer Mallo, Jolene Mosley, Antonia Watts, Chao Wu

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You can learn more about CB-13 in this interview I conducted with Councilmember Christiana Rigby on February 16th:

The Howard County Council will vote on CB-13 2021 on March 1st and it is expected to pass: https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Calendar/EventId/2535/e/county-council-legislative-session-1-mar-2021

Scott E

1 COMMENT

  1. I rarely use a plastic straw so it does not effect me. But, by the order of HoCo gov’t, eliminating plastic straws in HoCo seems a waste of time and effort. (I admit, I did not read the proposed legislation.)

    Besides removing straws from schools, are they also eliminating the sale of straws in CVS, Giant, Costco, Walmart, etc. ??? Therefore, if I needed some straws, I would buy them in Balto County, Carroll County, Anne Arundel County or someplace nearby. (150 straws for a dollar at Dollar Tree.)

    Are they going to restrict the purchase of straws from Amazon ? (Which I doubt they could effectively do because of interstate commerce laws)

    It just seems the HoCo council members could find a better use of their time and effort.

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