Montpelier: Vote YES on 4 to Curb Plastic Pollution

VPIRG has come out in support of Article 4 – a proposed charter change for Montpelier that would give city leaders the authority to address the growing problem of single-use plastic pollution. Specifically, the charter change, proposed by the Mayor and City Council, would enable Montpelier to regulate the sale and distribution of single-use plastics. Plastic bags and other plastic waste can also pose major problems within the recycling stream, as they get stuck in the sorting machinery, slow down the process, contaminate other materials and increase expenses.

“Plastic pollution is choking our environment, harming wildlife and even threatening human health,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG. “VPIRG applauds the City of Montpelier for taking on this issue of single-use plastic waste, and we urge residents to vote Yes on Article 4.”

If passed today, the city of Montpelier would send the following proposal to the state legislature for final approval:

[Under ‘5-301. Powers and duties of City Council’]

“(9) Regulate, license, or prohibit, within the boundaries of the City, point of sale distribution of non-reusable plastic bags, non-reusable plastic straws and similar plastic products that are not reusable, and to define what constitutes reusable in this context.”

Here’s the issue: the statement above is not what you’ll see under Article 4 on your ballot, but rather a short sentence that references the agreed-upon measure. It asks: “Shall the city amend section 5-301 the city charter to allow the city to regulate issues and activities within the city that relate to community and environmental sustainability, as agreed to by the City Council on October 3rd?”

We want to make it absolutely clear: when voting YES on Article 4, you will be voting for the aforementioned proposal to regulate nonrenewable plastic products citywide.

“Montpelier has an opportunity to be a leader on plastics policy in the state. This could be a tipping point, and we expect state leaders will look to municipalities like Montpelier, Brattleboro and others as they consider state legislation addressing plastic pollution next year,” said Samantha Hurt, the Environmental Associate for VPIRG.

Montpelier wouldn’t be the first city in Vermont to ban plastic bags. Earlier this year, Brattleboro successfully implemented a bag ban that has been widely accepted throughout the community.

“As someone who worked at the grocery store in Montpelier, I know that there are a lot of people who would gladly bring their own bags but would sometimes forget,” said Miles Rapaport, who graduated in May of 2017 from Montpelier High School. “I think that a ban on plastic bags would be welcomed by the city. The people of Montpelier want to do the right thing.”