Laws that ban plastic bags and prohibit Vermonters from throwing food scraps in the garbage have taken effect. As a result, all residents will be banned from trashing leftovers while grocers, retailers and restaurants will be 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 were unsuccessful in their efforts.