3 June 2019
Vermont Congress Approves Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags, Expanded Polystyrene Containers
The Vermont legislature on 22 May approved legislation (S. 113) barring stores and food service establishments in the state from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. The legislation also bars food service establishments from providing single-use plastic straws and single-use plastic stirrers, although straws may be provided if they are explicitly requested. Moreover, it bans persons from selling or offering for sale in the state any expanded polystyrene food service products and precludes stores and food service establishments from selling or providing food or beverages in any such products.
If Governor Phil Scott signs the legislation into law, these prohibitions would apply from 1 July 2020, although stores and food service establishments would be allowed to sell or provide subject merchandise in inventory if such merchandise was purchased prior to 15 May 2019 and is provided to a consumer by 1 July 2021. Persons, stores or food service establishments that violate the prohibitions would receive a warning for an initial violation, a US$25 civil penalty for a second violation, and a US$100 civil penalty for a third and any subsequent violations.
The American Chemistry Council blasted the legislation in a 29 May press release and is urging Governor Scott to veto it. Adam S. Peer, senior director of the ACC’s packaging and plastics division, declared that “a ban of single-use plastic products is not the answer” because “these products provide business owners and consumers a cost-effective and environmentally preferable choice that is ideal for protecting food and preventing food waste.” According to Peer, such a ban “may lead to increased solid waste, energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.” “While we appreciate that the bill aligns with our position to provide straws upon request, the remaining provisions require us to strongly oppose this legislation”, Peer added.