The Virginia General Assembly is in session and debating the outcome of SB1103: a bill that would allow any locality to prohibit the distribution, sale, or offering of disposable plastic bags to consumers. SB1103 aims to prohibit single use plastic grocery bags and will not target reusable plastic bags, garbage bags, and bags used for meats, prescription drugs, and alcohol among other specialty items.
Single use plastic bags often end up in Virginia’s waterways and have negative impacts on wildlife. Despite the fact that plastic bags can be recycled, the vast majority of them are not. This places extra financial and energy costs on the continued manufacturing of the same types of plastic bags.
Along with recycling centers, many of the stores that utilize these types of bags for their customers also accept them back as recycling. Click here to find a recycling center or find out which stores recycle your plastic bags.
A Virginia Beach Republican Senator introduced SB1103 and the Senate of Virginia passed it with a vote of 20 to 16. The plastic bag bill must also pass the House of Delegates.
As of February 11, the House has referred the bill to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor for review. It is important to note that SB1103 does not implement a statewide ban of plastic bags. Instead, it leaves the decision on how to legislate the issue up to individual localities.
The plastic bag bill is a step in the right direction for the environment, but action to reduce the amount of plastic bags ending up in our waterways can be taken with or without legislation. Recycling infrastructure is already in place among the companies that utilize these types of plastic bags. Also, there are manufacturing companies, such as Trex, that will recycle and turn these bags into materials for building. Resources for recycling are already available.
Recycling, especially when it comes to plastics, makes sense for both the economy and the environment.
Clean Fairfax will continue to follow the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session.
You can track SB1103 here.