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Executive Order 77 on single-use plastics: Implementation updates, FAQs

From: Virginia Tech Procurement and Office of Sustainability

Virginia Tech has submitted its initial implementation plan for Executive Order 77: Virginia Leading by Example to Reduce Plastic Pollution and Solid Waste to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Signed into effect by Gov. Ralph Northam in March 2021, Executive Order 77 requires state agencies, including Virginia Tech, to (1) cease buying, selling, and distributing disposable plastic bags, single-use plastic and polystyrene food service containers, plastic straws and cutlery, and single-use plastic water bottles; and (2) develop a long-term Plastic Pollution Reduction and Waste Diversion Plan.

A cross-functional Virginia Tech working group has developed an initial implementation plan and Frequently Asked Questions page. The implementation plan includes the following components:

  • Effective July 21, 2021 – All Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension locations will cease the purchase and distribution of polystyrene food service containers. Any vendor who provides services to the campus that may utilize polystyrene food containers will also be required to transition to a sustainable alternative product as of this date.  Virginia Tech’s self-operating dining services previously ceased the use of these polystyrene containers in 2014-15, and the university is working with all other internal and external stakeholders to ensure this cessation deadline is met.

  • Effective Dec. 31, 2022 – The university and its vendors will cease the purchase and distribution of plastic cutlery, straws, and drink stirrers. Both Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension are in the process of identifying and evaluating viable alternatives for these products. Several university operations, such as Dining Services, plan to transition to alternatives as soon as market factors such as product availability and cost allow.
     

Executive Order 77 also requires state agencies to submit a long-term plan for Plastic Pollution Reduction and Waste Diversion by Sept. 21, 2021. This plan will account for all other single use plastic items that have not been addressed in the implementation plan. For Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension, this includes plastic food containers, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, and more. The order requires a 25 percent annual reduction for these items, beginning Dec. 31, 2022. The complete cessation of all eligible single-use plastic items must be finalized by Dec. 31, 2025.

The executive order allows exemptions for certain items related to public health, safety, research, and medical purposes. Virginia Tech is working with state and university partners to further define these criteria.

Procurement and the Office of Sustainability will continue to publish updates on the implementation plan in VTx this summer.

University stakeholders are encouraged to view the Frequently Asked Questions page, and to submit their questions to VTPlasticReduce@vt.edu

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