Statement: Gov. Northam announces executive order to phase out single use plastics in state government

Press Release |

Media Contact:
Elly Boehmer, Environment Virginia State Director, [email protected], 847-775-9778

RICHMOND, Va — Gov. Ralph Northam announced this morning Executive Order 77 which will eliminate the use of disposable plastic bags and single-use foodware at all state agencies within 120 days, and phase out the use of other single-use plastics in the state agencies and public universities by 2025. It also directs the Secretary to develop recommendations for reducing solid waste and diverting waste from landfills through composting, reuse, and other strategies. 

“Students are more conscious than ever of the consumption of plastic and its negative impact on our environment and public health, so we’re thrilled that our state is taking major steps to eliminate single-use plastic,” said Clare O’Reilly, student leader with University of Virginia PIRG Campus Action, a student environmental advocacy group, “UVA has already made great strides to reduce its plastic consumption on Grounds and it is great to see that the state of Virginia has recognized the importance of this issue.”

Last week, Northam approved Del. Betsy Carr’s bill (HB1902) to ban polystyrene foam cups and take-out containers in Virginia. Localities are now able to establish a fee for plastic bags and during the 2021 General Assembly lawmakers also passed a ban on intentional balloon releases; his EO builds on this progress. 

PIRG Campus Action will continue to work with Environment Virginia to help make Virginia a leader in reducing plastic pollution and solid waste.

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

Gov. Northam’s Executive Order 77 is one of the strongest executive orders in the country when it comes to eliminating unnecessary plastic waste in state government. 

We must reduce the harm caused by single-use plastic waste and this is a big step in that direction. Virginia’s waterways and wildlife are among the Commonwealth’s best assets and by taking action on this dangerous single-use plastic, Gov. Northam has chosen to put the planet over plastic.

This order acknowledges a simple fact: There is no “away” for our single-use plastic. Whether it ends up in a landfill, an incinerator or in our environment, the plastic we use for just a few minutes will have long-term consequences for our wildlife and our communities. By eliminating the worst forms of single-use plastic in state agencies and taking the first step toward a future with less waste, Governor Northam truly is acting in the best interest of future generations.

PIRG Campus Action is a national training and advocacy program started by the Student PIRGs and is based on a model that has been helping students make positive change for almost 50 years. PIRG Campus Action student clubs work with professional staff at colleges and universities to make sure our peers have the skills, opportunities and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. Our network on over 100 campuses provides the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more.