Six years ago, Montgomery County enacted a ban on expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) food containers. That same legislation required all food service businesses in Montgomery County to use compostable or recyclable disposable food service ware by 1 January 2017.
However, many local restaurants continue to use take-out containers made out of #6 plastic, which is not recyclable in Montgomery County. To clarify the issue, in October 2020, the County enacted additional legislation to explicitly ban all polystyrene disposable food containers, including #6 plastic. That explicit ban goes into effect on 1 January 2022. Ahead of the effective date, the County will be undertaking an education campaign, including informing businesses of affordable recyclable or compostable alternatives.
The expansion of the polystyrene ban is important because #6 plastic is not recyclable in Montgomery County. The County’s curbside recycling program accepts plastic containers labeled with resin numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. Items made out of #6 plastic (including red Solo cups, many drink lids, certain food containers, and packaging from toys and electronics) must be placed in the trash and not in the blue recycling bins.
It is easy to confuse #6 plastic with recyclable materials, particularly disposable food containers, as they often appear identical to recyclable items. Therefore, it is important to look for the number of the plastic, not just the triangular recycling symbol. Often times, different pieces of food containers are made from different types of plastic, one of which may not be recyclable. For example, the bottom of a food container may be #1 plastic and the lid may be #6.
We heard recently from County Executive Marc Elrich that Montgomery County is working toward offering residential food scrap recycling (composting). However, the County is beginning its food scrap recycling efforts with the commercial sector. Thus, for now, residents interested in curbside compost collection must rely on private companies that transport compost to a facility in Prince George’s County.
Several Northwood-Four Corners residents currently use Compost Crew (the County provides a list of private compost collectors online here). Our Compost Crew neighborhood rate is based on the number of neighborhood residents using the program. To get our neighborhood rate, use discount code NORTHWOOD COMPOSTS (all caps, no spaces) when you sign up at compostcrew.com. The more people who sign up, the cheaper our neighborhood rate will be. ■
© 2021 NFCCA [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn202102f.html]