VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE) — New laws in Virginia will quickly give some energy to native governments and assist environmental organizations and companies fight plastic air pollution.
Jim Deppe is an advocacy coordinator for Lynnhaven River Now, a corporation that believes in restoring and defending Virginia’s waterways. Deppe additionally coordinates the Virginia Coastal Alliance, which includes 17 organizations in Virginia that target off-shore drilling and single-use plastics.
“Baggage, polystyrene and balloons are all important issues within the marine surroundings,” Deppe stated. “Two years in the past, there was no possibility for municipalities to place legal guidelines in place domestically that may permit the elimination of plastic baggage, polystyrene and balloons.”
That’s as a result of historically, Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. Which means municipalities or cities are restricted to the powers expressly granted to them by the state. Organizations corresponding to Lynnhaven River Now and the Surfrider Basis, one other nonprofit environmental group, successfully lobbied in Richmond in 2020 to permit native municipalities to implement ordinances towards plastic bag utilization by requiring a small price.
House Bill 2159, launched by Del. Nancy Man, D-Virginia Seashore, is among the most necessary payments of the yr to fight plastic air pollution in Virginia, in response to environmentalists. The regulation prohibits anybody over the age of 16 from deliberately releasing non-biodegradable balloons outdoor.
Anybody caught releasing balloons might face a civil penalty of $25 per balloon. The present regulation prohibits the discharge of fifty balloons or extra inside an hour. The civil penalty is presently $5 and proceeds are deposited into the Lifetime Looking and Fishing Endowment Fund. The brand new regulation will put any penalty cash into the Recreation Safety Fund. The invoice was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam.
Morgan Wilds is the vice chair for the Virginia chapter of the Surfrider Basis. The group was based 36 years in the past with the mission of defending the world’s oceans and seashores.
Wilds stated the ban on balloon releases, and the following penalty, will hopefully deter folks from releasing them.
“Virginia is a blue state, however it’s nonetheless very a lot purple,” Wilds stated. “Environmental points have an extended street forward of them within the commonwealth.”
One other important piece of environmental laws handed by the Common Meeting this yr was the ban on polystyrene packaging generally utilized in carryout. The ban goes into impact for bigger chain eating places in 2023 after which statewide in 2025.
Northam signed an executive order in March to assist scale back single-use plastics in any respect government department state companies and state greater training establishments. State companies have 120 days to discontinue, with some exemptions, shopping for, promoting, or distributing gadgets corresponding to disposable plastic baggage, single-use plastic and polystyrene meals service containers, plastic straws and cutlery, and single-use plastic water bottles.
“We’ve been combating on it for a couple of years,” Wilds stated concerning the polystyrene laws.
Katie Register is the manager director of the Clear Virginia Waterways program of Longwood College and has labored to fight plastic air pollution. She organizes the Worldwide Coastal Cleanup in Virginia and collects knowledge on what kinds of litter are within the surroundings.
The highest 10 contributors to plastic waste come from eating places and comfort shops and embody straws, lids, cups, and beverage bottles, in response to the Clear Virginia Waterways web site.
On the native stage, some eating places in Virginia Seashore have already gotten a head begin on utilizing sustainable packaging earlier than the polystyrene ban takes impact.
“They [the Surfrider Foundation] got here to us three years in the past,” stated Patrick Edwards, proprietor of The Stockpot, an environmentally acutely aware restaurant positioned at 700 nineteenth St. in Virginia Seashore.
The Surfrider Basis advised Edwards that he would wish to fulfill their necessities if he wished to be part of the Ocean Pleasant Eating places program, an initiative to cease plastic from coming into oceans.
Restaurant house owners who wish to take part comply with outlined standards that bans using polystyrene, plastic baggage and straws, and requires reusable meals ware on-site and correct recycling practices, in response to the Surfrider Basis’s web site.
“We already met all of these standards as a result of it’s one thing that we felt was necessary to us within the first place,” Edwards stated. “In order that was actually a win-win for us.”
House owners taking part in this system are listed on the Surfrider Basis’s nationwide and chapter web sites and get advertising collateral corresponding to window stickers, brochures and invoice inserts to point out and educate prospects. Members additionally get a tax-deductible donation alternative.
Edwards stated he stopped utilizing plastic straws and didn’t get the suggestions he wished for being an environmentally acutely aware restaurant.
“Individuals are very depending on sure plastic issues,” Edwards stated. “After we made modifications to our straws, we acquired an enormous backlash. You’d assume everybody could be on board.”
Register hopes that her nonprofit gained’t must give attention to cleansing the surroundings.
“I wish to see us spend extra time on the earth of prevention, stopping this particles within the first place,” she stated. “It’s a matter of assets, however it’s additionally a matter of political will.”
Capital Information Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth College’s Robertson Faculty of Media and Tradition. College students in this system present state authorities protection for a wide range of media shops in Virginia.