LYNCHBURG, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that will eliminate single-use plastic at state agencies and public colleges and universities by 2025.
This comes after he signed a bill banning all food vendors from using Styrofoam starting July 1, 2025.
Some Lynchburg businesses are already ahead of the curve.
At Lynchburg Daily Bread, volunteers serve thousands of meals a month to those in need.
“We knew that a lot of our recipients were actually microwaving the Styrofoam,” said Tracey Dixon, executive director of Lynchburg Daily Bread.
She said the bigger issue was disposing the containers; so, for the past year, they switched to mineral-based containers.
The nonprofit uses 12,000 of the containers a month, and it took months to figure out which product would be environmentally safe, while still serving those in need.”
“It took us about eight months of research to find a suitable alternative to Styrofoam. We tested more than 20 different items. The challenge is something that can keep food hot, but still hold the approximately two pounds of food we distribute,” said Dixon.
At Depot Grille in downtown Lynchburg, co-owner David Poole said they phased out Styrofoam nearly a decade ago and switched to a biodegradable alternative.
“It’s a recycled sugarcane fiber, so it’s recyclable, landfillable, and nontoxic,” said Poole.
Both Poole and Dixon said they’ve seen an increase in to-go orders during the pandemic, so the containers are now a major part of their budget.
“There is a little rise in price, but long term, I mean it’s a no-brainer,” said Poole.
Since 2011, solid waste disposed at state landfills has grown from two million tons to nearly 23 million tons per year.
Lee Francis, deputy director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said it’s not too late to save the planet.
“We can definitely make change. The plastic problem, if we don’t address it now, it’s going to get worse,” said Francis.
Businesses are adapting and changing in order to do their part.
“You work with what you’ve got,” said Poole.