We’re working to put wildlife over waste in Virginia

To protect wildlife and the Chesapeake Bay from plastic pollution we need to reduce wasteful packaging and hold plastic producers responsible for their waste.

Sea turtle swimming in coral reef in Hawaii
Tropic Dreams | Shutterstock.com

Every day, people throw away millions of pieces of single-use plastic “stuff” — and too much of it polluting our communities, or washing into the Chesapeake Bay. By design, plastic takes hundreds of years to fully degrade — which means every piece of plastic ever produced is still out there, sitting in landfills or floating in the water, waiting to be mistaken as a deadly piece of food by an eagle, sea turtle or dolphin.

Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our waterways for hundreds of years. And as long as the producers and distributors of all of that plastic can continue to make the waste our problem to deal with, the amount of plastic coming into our lives, and threatening Virginia’s wildlife will only increase.

A solution to plastic problems in Virginia

We’re working to pass a law in Virginia that would require manufacturers to reduce the overall amount of plastic packaging they create, and pay for the costs associated with disposal of the waste they continue to create. For example, right now plastic bags cost manufacturers only a penny to produce, but on average it costs the localities that have to dispose of that bag 17 cents to deal with it after it is thrown away. Everything about that equation has to change.

Over 70% of Virginians support requiring manufacturers to use less plastic and make them pay for the programs that deal with the waste they create. And we have a real chance to pass statewide policies that will reduce plastic, and hold polluters accountable. [Recently] Virginia passed a law that bans some of the worst kinds of single use plastic, foam cups and take out containers. Ten localities have put a fee on plastic bags and several others are actively considering it. 

Every year during the General Assembly, legislators talk about Virginia’s waste and litter problems during committee hearings, workgroups and annual retreats. This is our opportunity to motivate them behind our vision to reduce unnecessary single use plastics, build a robust circular economy and keep plastic pollution out of our environment.

With the help of our supporters we led the effort to ban foam takeout containers, including delivering over 50,000 petition signatures to decision makers. This summer we are leading a statewide effort and building consensus with dozens of environmental groups, around a shared vision for moving Virginia beyond single use plastic. 

Virginia is a natural wonder. From Shenandoah to the Chesapeake Bay- we have iconic nature and waterways that are worth protecting. Plastics have become a major threat to our favorite outdoor spaces and our wildlife. We need new waste disposal solutions that actually reduce  plastic pollution and fund the programs that will reduce, and recycle the rest. 

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