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Virginia Governor Takes a Stand Against Single-Use Plastics

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that effectively phases out the use of non-reusable plastics at state institutions, including colleges and universities.

The order came only days after Northam signed a law banning polystyrene food containers in the state.

EcoWatch reports that many plastics are not actually recyclable. In the U.S., less than nine percent of plastics are recycled.

"From landmark investments in renewable energy to bold action to tackle the climate crisis, Virginia is at the forefront of innovative efforts to protect our environment, and addressing the problem of plastic pollution is an important part of this work," Northam said in a press release announcing the order.

To decrease the amount of solid waste that ends up burned or landfilled, Northam is requiring all state agencies, colleges, and universities to stop using unnecessary single-use items within 120 days.

This includes plastic bags, food containers, plastic straws, cutlery, and water bottles. There are exceptions for plastics necessary for medical, public safety, and emergency uses.

Besides phasing out plastic, the order is designed to fight solid waste in other ways.

For example, it directs the state Secretary of Natural Resources to investigate ways to keep waste out of landfills by increasing composting and innovative recycling methods. 

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