December 22, 2021

Styrofoam Use to Be Banned in County Food Service Operations Starting Jan. 1

All food service businesses in Montgomery County may not sell or provide food or beverages in any foam or rigid polystyrene (Styrofoam™) food service products starting Saturday, Jan. 1. Items to be prohibited include food containers, plates, hot and cold beverage cups and other products made of polystyrene.

In addition, County-law will prohibit the sale of any foam or rigid polystyrene food service ware products or polystyrene loose fill packaging. All food service ware purchased and used must be either recyclable in the County or compostable. A list of vendors that supply recyclable or compostable food service ware is available on the website of the County’s Department of Environmental Protection at

In 2015, the County Council—which at the time included current County Executive Marc Elrich—approved legislation that prohibited the use and sale of expanded polystyrene (food service ware and loose fill packaging). The legislation required that all disposable food service ware be compostable or recyclable in the County. Polystyrene (which falls into the category of No. 6 plastics—a number that can be found in the recycling designation for many products) food service ware is not recyclable in the County.

In 2020, County Executive Elrich proposed, and the County Council enacted, Council Bill 33-20 that clarified the existing requirements and outright states that the use and sale of all No. 6 polystyrene food service ware is banned to minimize any possible confusion.

Businesses that fail to comply with the requirements can be cited with a Class B violation of the Montgomery County Code. They could be subject to fines of $100 and $150 for subsequent violations. Those penalties can be assessed for each day a violation persists.

DEP’s Recycling and Resource Management Division (RRMD) Waste Reduction and Recycling Section is conducting an outreach awareness campaign to ensure that all affected businesses are aware of these requirements. As part of its ongoing education campaign on the issue, DEP is offering to assist businesses and organization in their efforts to comply with the requirements.

For more information about the law, including resources, visit the DEP website at or call MC311 by dialing 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311 (outside of Montgomery County).