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Vermont’s plastic bag ban, food scraps mandate now in effect

  • A shopper places her goods into her car outside a supermarket in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. New Zealand plans to ban disposable plastic shopping bags by next July as the nation tries to live up to its clean-and-green image. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday that New Zealanders use hundreds of millions of the bags each year and that some of them end up polluting the precious coastal and marine environment. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Published: 7/1/2020 9:48:51 PM
Modified: 7/1/2020 9:48:42 PM

Laws that ban plastic bags and prohibit Vermonters from throwing food scraps in the garbage took effect on Wednesday.

As a result, all residents are banned from trashing leftovers while grocers, retailers and restaurants are prohibited from distributing single-use plastic bags.

The food scraps law is set to take effect after Vermont lawmakers passed the Universal Recycling Law in 2012.

In 2015, that legislation prohibited Vermonters from throwing away recyclables.

It also banned businesses that generate more than one-third of a ton of food scraps from throwing them away.

This year, the ban will be applied to all Vermonters.

Last year, the governor signed the prohibition on certain single-use plastics — bags used for dry cleaning, flowers, packaging loose produce and other food items within stores will still be allowed.

While both mandates are going into effect as planned, the deadline was uncertain during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis prompted unsuccessful calls to delay both the plastic bag ban and the food scraps mandate.

In March, the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association pushed state officials to delay the plastic bag ban until January, arguing that more reusable bags could increase workers’ exposure to COVID-19, and that stores have seen delays in paper bag shipments.

Facing economic strain from the pandemic, trash haulers asked lawmakers to delay the food scraps ban indefinitely and to loosen other regulations, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

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