VT Single-Use Plastics Ban Takes Effect

Great news – Vermont’s Single-Use Plastics Ban goes into effect today! Last year, VPIRG worked hard to advocate for the passage of this best-in-the-nation legislation, and we couldn’t have done it without support from our members, supporters, and allies across the state.

As you well know, we face a real and growing plastic pollution crisis. That’s why Vermont’s new law (Act 69) is so important. Single-use plastics are used for just minutes, but can pollute our environment, endanger wildlife, and threaten human health for centuries. Act 69 is a critical first step toward addressing some of the most common types of plastic pollution. like carryout bags, straws, and expanded polystyrene (think Styrofoam).

The new law bans the distribution of single-use plastic carryout plastic bags at all stores and food service establishments. Some plastic bags will still be allowed for specific uses such as packaging for loose items, meat, flowers, dry-cleaning, and prescription medications. We encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags. And remember, the Vermont Department of Health has stated they are safe to use even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paper bags will be available at the point of sale for a minimum customer charge of 10 cents per bag, to encourage customers to use reusable bags.

Act 69 also bans plastic drink stirrers (mainly used for coffee) and expanded polystyrene (like cups, trays, take-out containers, and egg cartons) and creates a straws upon request policy in restaurants, meaning that plastic straws will no longer be automatically distributed. Any customer can request a straw if they need one, and hospitals and care facilities are exempt from this policy. To see the full details of Act 69, check out the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Single Use Products Law FAQ page.

As strong as it is, Vermont’s new law still only begins to scratch the surface of the vast plastic pollution crisis. As COVID-19 surged, we witnessed the plastics industry exploit the public health crisis to push their products and make false claims that reusable products pose a danger to public health. The fight to stop single-use plastics is not easy, but we are showing the plastics industry that it is possible to say no to single-use plastics.

So, as we celebrate this groundbreaking new law, we look forward to our work ahead. In fact, just three weeks ago, the Vermont Senate passed another important bill (S.227) with an eye toward reducing plastic packaging and requiring manufacturers to take more responsibility for the plastic materials they do create.

With your support, we’ll keep leading the charge against plastic waste, and work to make Vermont clean, green, and safe for generations to come.

For more information, check out our Act 69 FAQ below, or visit https://dec.vermont.gov/content/single-use-products-law.

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