Vermont plastic bag ban, composting law begin Wednesday

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Two new laws go into effect Wednesday aimed at reducing waste in the Green Mountain State.

On Wednesday, the statewide plastic bag ban officially begins. Plus, Vermonters will now have to throw their food scraps in the compost instead of the trash. Both laws aim to cut down on the amount of waste ending up in Vermont landfills.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a push from the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association to postpone the bag ban over concerns that reusable bags could spread germs. But the Vermont Health Department gave reusable bags the OK and lawmakers stuck with the original date.

Starting Wednesday, food and service establishments will no longer be giving out plastic carryout bags. Exceptions include loose items in a store like meat, flowers or nuts and coffee.

Shoppers will have to bring a reusable bag or pay 10 cents for a paper bag.

The law goes beyond the checkout line. Plastic straws will now be by request, plastic stirrers will be replaced with a stirrer of a different material and stores will no longer be offering polystyrene as an option for egg cartons or trays.

Vermonters must now also throw their food scraps in the compost instead of the trash. State leaders say keeping food scraps out of the trash saves landfill space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

There are a few options for residents including composting at home, using a drop-off site or a curbside hauler. However, state leaders aren't going through people's trash to check for compliance. They're asking for voluntary compliance.