Single-use plastics are literally choking the planet. That isn’t meant to be alarmist. The figures on single-use plastics are staggering. Over 100 billion single-use plastic bags and 182 billion straws are thrown away every year. This is on top of all the other plastic waste we generate daily.
Single-use plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene food containers are used briefly, but their impacts endure. Our custom of using something once because it’s more convenient is one of the primary reasons why we find ourselves in this situation. And, it’s why we must pass laws aimed at moving the needle towards plastic reduction.
The Model Bill
We know we can’t recycle our way out of the plastic problem. So, we have to focus on reducing single-use plastic. And we can do that by targeting needless items that can easily be replaced with reusable and less environmentally damaging alternatives.
Enter the Single-Use Plastic Reduction Act. This model bill is designed to provide a comprehensive policy framework for reducing single-use plastic in any state.
Here’s how it works:
- First, the law bans all stores from providing single-use plastic bags. Instead, customers can bring their own reusable bag or pay for a single-use paper bag. The fee on paper bags must be at least $0.10. This fee is designed to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags. Importantly, the bill has a robust definition of “reusable bag” that makes sure stores can’t simply replace thin, single-use plastic bags with thicker plastic bags.
- Second, the bill bans polystyrene foam foodservice products like cups, plates, egg cartons, and takeout containers. None of these items are recyclable – meaning that these materials are either burned, buried, or littered throughout the environment. What’s more, polystyrene foam containers are known to contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the food and drinks.
- Third, the bill would prohibit restaurants and other business from providing single-use plastic straws unless the customer specifically asks for one. There are many alternatives to plastic straws including reusable straws made from metal or silicone. This policy will drastically reduce the amount of needless, single-use plastic straws consumed and disposed of, while also leaving some needed flexibility for folks who need straws.
To help residents and businesses prepare for all these changes, the bill tasks the state environmental agency with implementing a comprehensive education and outreach program. This program is designed to assist businesses with compliance and help educate residents on the harms associated with single-use plastics, as well as the benefits of reusable alternatives.
Progressing Toward a Zero Waste Future
With this model bill, we can say goodbye to needless, single-use plastic waste and hello to a more sustainable future. If enacted, the Single-Use Plastic Reduction Act will cut down on the amount of single-use plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene food containers littering our environment, and taking up space in landfills. What’s more, the bill will help educate everyone in the state about the environmental harms associated with these items and the availability of reusable alternatives.
Be part of the solution. Download our model legislation today and contact your state representatives about introducing the bill in your state this legislative session. Together we can move towards a plastic-free future.