Statement: Virginia General Assembly votes to ban single use foam

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA -- Today, the Virginia Senate voted 21 to 16 to pass Del. Betsy Carr’s bill (HB1902) to ban polystyrene foam (what most of us call Styrofoam) cups and take-out containers in Virginia. Polystyrene products are one of the most frequently observed kinds of plastic litter in the ocean. Del Carr’s bill passed the House of Delegates in 2020 but a reenactment clause was added by the Senate, requiring it to be re-introduced this year. 

The bill passed the Senate with an amendment that will be approved by the House of Delegates before heading to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for his signature. The House of Delegates passed this bill in January in a vote of 58 to 41.

Elly Boehmer, state director of Environment Virginia issued the following statement: 

A lot of waste comes from things we don’t need and we know we shouldn’t use, such as  foam cups and take-out containers. This trash ends up in our open spaces and waterways, where it endangers wildlife. Polystyrene never breaks down, so it harms our environment for decades. Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our planet for generations to come. 

In passing this bill, Virginia sends a strong message regarding our role as an environmental leader. Virginia’s waterways and wildlife are among the Commonwealth’s best assets and by taking action on this dangerous single use plastic, our leaders have chosen to put the planet over plastic. 

We thank Del. Carr for championing this bill for the past two years and her ongoing advocacy for the environment. We also thank the bipartisan group legislators who signed onto this bill including Chief Co-Patron Del. Alfonso Lopez as well as co-patrons Delegates Kenneth Plum and Paul Krizek who have championed this issue for the past two years. 

Environment Virginia has talked to tens of thousands of Virginians about plastic pollution and polystyrene and has collected more than 50,000 petitions calling on our leaders to take action on this crucial issue. Virginia’s leaders in the General Assembly listened this year and we look forward to Gov. Northam doing the same.