Legislation & Regulation

Virginia passes PS ban, advanced recycling regulations

Virginia lawmakers have passed House Bill 1902 that will ban all restaurants and food vendors from using polystyrene (PS) food containers by July 2025.

Under the legislation, large restaurants and food vendors—defined as those that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations—will have until July 1, 2023, to stop dispensing food in PS containers. Smaller businesses will have an extra two years to comply with the law, with a deadline of July 1, 2025. According to the legislation, violators will be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $50 per day.

According to a report from Virginia Mercury, a nonprofit news site in Virginia, state lawmakers had passed a version of this bill in 2020, but the Senate added a provision requiring that it be passed again in 2021 in order to go into effect. The bill cleared the state’s House but ran into trouble in the Senate. The news site reports that lawmakers were concerned this legislation would “add another burden to restaurants already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In addition, state lawmakers also passed a separate bill related to advanced recycling, which aims to classify chemical recycling operations as “manufacturing” rather than solid waste management.

According to a Feb. 24 report from Virginia Mercury, the advanced recycling legislation passed as somewhat of a compromise to the polystyrene ban. It reports, that the “polystyrene ban had successfully passed the House but was facing opposition in the Senate, where legislators worried it would further burden restaurant owners already struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the advanced recycling bill from Sen. Emmett Hanger … had passed the Senate but faced a skeptical House committee that had already killed a companion bill. Negotiations among lawmakers led to what Sen. Chap Petersen called ‘The Great Polystyrene Compromise of 2021.’”

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