(RICHMOND, VA)—The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting the outdoor release of nonbiodegradable balloons late last week (H.B. 2159, introduced by Del. Nancy Guy of Virginia Beach). Separate legislation requiring food vendors to phase out their use of polystyrene takeout containers (H.B. 1902, introduced by Del. Betsy Carr of Richmond) has also passed in both houses, and a committee of legislators is now working to iron out differences between the two.
These bills will greatly enhance Virginia’s efforts to prevent litter from polluting waterways. Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner issued this statement.
“Balloons are often released out of doors to mark celebrations, but too often, they end up clogging our waterways and choking dolphins, birds, turtles, and other wildlife. Confining balloons to indoor settings is a simple step that will protect wildlife beloved by our children and keep our waterways running clear and safe.
“Polystyrene takeout food containers seem innocuous but—lightweight and easily crumbled—they wind up everywhere, especially in waterways. It takes centuries for these containers to break down. This noxious form of pollution is unnecessary, given the availability of more environmentally-friendly options for takeout containers.
“We are grateful to Delegates Guy and Carr for these bills, which will help protect our waterways from litter. The many Virginia advocates, conservation groups, and other organizations who have raised awareness of the litter problem deserve the praise of all who live in Virginia.”