The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Maine and Vermont Pass Plastic Bag Bans on the Same Day
Governors in Vermont and Maine signed bills on Monday that will ban plastic bags in their states next year, The Hill reported.
The Maine ban will go into effect next Earth Day, April 22, 2020. The Vermont ban, which extends beyond plastic bags and is the most comprehensive plastics ban so far, will go into effect in July 2020. The wait time is designed to give businesses time to adjust to the ban.
Gov. Janet Mills signed the Maine bill early Monday morning, making Maine the fourth state to ban single-use plastic bags after California, Hawaii and New York.
Maine will allow stores to charge at least 5 cents for paper bags or reusable plastic bags that are able to withstand 75 repeated uses. Those bags are made from heavier plastic than single-use bags, the AP reported.
The measure does provide exceptions for certain types of bags, including bags for produce, prescription drugs, newspapers, laundry and live animals, according to the Portland Press Herald.
"Today, we took an important step towards protecting the wildlife and landscapes that support Maine's economy," said Rep. Holly Stover, one of the bill's chief sponsors, in a statement, as the Portland Press Herald reported. "With the governor's signature on this bill, we will be limiting the plastic bags that enter our coastal waters and protecting the health of our marine life."
Plastic bag manufacturers argue that this ban will only lead to thicker bags in landfills, according to the AP.
Vermont's bill took that plastic bag manufacturers argument into account in creating its bill that Gov. Phil Scott signed into law on Monday. The Vermont law stops manufacturers from a workaround by banning plastic bags that do not have stitched handles. The stitched handle requirement makes it cost prohibitive for manufacturers, effectively ensuring that carryout bags will be made from cloth or reusable polypropylene, according to National Geographic.
While the Vermont bill has similar exemptions to the Maine bill, it goes further in several ways, making it the nation's most comprehensive ban on disposable plastics and food packaging. The Vermont law not only prohibits retailers and restaurants from providing customers with single-use carryout bags, but also from providing customers with plastic stirrers and straws, though straws may be provided on request and for people with medical conditions. The law also bans cups, takeout, or other foam food containers made from expanded polystyrene, according to National Geographic.
"Vermont has now established a national precedent of tackling three of the worst examples of plastic packaging in one sweeping state law," said Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator who heads a plastics pollution initiative at Bennington College, in a statement, as National Geographic reported.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."