To mitigate the harmful effects of single-use plastic products and lessen the burden of plastics on Vermont's landfill, in 2019, Vermont’s State Government passed a single-use products law (Act 69 of 2019). The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2020, prohibits stores and food service establishments from providing single-use plastic carryout bags at the point of sale, expanded polystyrene (commonly called Styrofoam) food and beverage containers, plastic straws (except upon customer request), and plastic stirrers. Additionally, the law permits stores to provide single-use paper bags at the point of sale if the customer is charged at least 10 cents per bag. To study the impact of the single-use products law, we conducted two statewide online surveys in 2021 and 2022: a general population survey and a food business survey. This report summarizes the findings of both surveys relevant to Vermont's single-use products law. Key findings include: 1. Following implementation of the law, Vermonters reported using, on average, 91% fewer plastic bags (6 per week). This does not appear to have been offset by substantially greater use of single-use paper bags. 2. Most respondents to the consumer survey (66%) agreed that the environmental benefits of the plastic bag ban outweigh the economics costs. 3. Few consumers (18%) or food business professionals (18%) reported feeling confused about the requirements of the law. 4. Charging for paper bags was identified by food business owners and managers as the most challenging requirement to comply with. 5. Across food businesses, the law has a mostly neutral or positive effect on revenue and cleanliness. 6. Food service owners and managers report more negative impacts on operating costs, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction than food retailers.
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Belarmino, Emily H.; Ryan, Claire; Wang, Qingbin; Niles, Meredith T.; and Torness, Margaret, "Impact of Vermont's Single-Use Plastics Ban on Consumers and Food Businesses" (2023). College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Faculty Publications. 197.