Single-Use Plastics Reduction (EO77) - Single-Use Plastics Reduction (EO77) - Christopher Newport University

Single-Use Plastics Reduction (EO77)

On March 23, 2021 Governor Northam issued Executive Order 77 (EO77) which mandates state agencies to reduce waste and eliminate the use of single-use plastics. The order is aimed at “reducing Virginia’s reliance on single-use plastics, which pollute waterways, harm fish and wildlife, and take up space in landfills.”

The implementation of EO77 is a three-step process:

  1. Cessation - July 21, 2021
    Executive Order 77 requires that as of July 21, 2021, unless an extension has been approved, Christopher Newport University must stop buying, selling or distributing five items:
    • Single-use plastic and foam food service containers
    • Single-use plastic water bottles
    • Single-use plastic bags
    • Single-use utensils
    • Single-use straws
    These are called "cessation" items. As we work to comply with EO77, you may still see some of the cessation items around campus. There are two extensions we have received to continue using cessation items after the July 21 deadline. These extensions last until:
    • December 31, 2021
      This extension allows us time to exhaust existing stock of the cessation items or to work out supply issues with our vendors.
    • December 31, 2025
      This extension covers items that we have deemed a risk to campus health and safety and require additional time to identify alternatives.
  2. Phase-out
    By September 20, 2021, all state agencies are required to submit a Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan (PPRP) that details the phase out of all single-use plastics over the next four years. The target reduction quantities we are required to meet include:
    • 25% reduction of all single-use plastics by December 31, 2022
    • 50% reduction of all single-use plastics by December 31, 2023
    • 75% reduction of all single-use plastics by December 31, 2024
    • 100% elimination of all single-use plastics by December 31, 2025
  3. Waste reduction
    In addition to targeting single-use plastics, EO77 requires agencies to identify additional ways to reduce trash-to-landfill. As these initiatives are identified, they will be shared here.

We will report our progress through our publicly available PPRP.


Any plastic that is considered single-use falls under EO77. That includes plastics #1-7, foam plastic coated paper products such as “paper” plates and hot coffee cuts, and plastic coated foils like mylar balloons and potato chip bags.

DEQ defines “single-use” as an item that “is used once and immediately discarded.” Larger plastic items such as ketchup bottles that are used multiple times are not considered single-use. If an item is not on the cessation list, ask yourself if you are able to reasonably expect that the majority of people who use the item you wish to utilize would either re-use or are able to recycle the item. If the answer is “yes” it’s probably not a single-use item. If you’re unsure or the answer is a definite “no,” consider using an alternative. If you have questions or would like a second opinion, please don’t hesitate to contact the EO77 work group at

Plastic is everywhere. It is a sneakily ubiquitous material in today’s society. A few helpful tips for identifying plastic include:

  • Paper items
    If the item appears to be made of paper or another fibrous material, tear a piece off the item. If you can see stringy looking edges, it’s probably paper. If you see a film that looks like Saran Wrap it’s got a plastic coating and should be considered plastic.
  • Hot food service items
    Any items that appear to be made of paper but are intended to hold “hot” items (e.g., soup cups, Chinet and similar brands of “paper” plates, hot coffee cups) more than likely have a plastic coating to keep the paper from deteriorating and should be treated like plastic.
  • Foils
    Any items with a thin coating with a metallic, foil shimmer are probably made of plastic. This includes “paper” notebooks, cards and wrapping paper that have foil design elements as well as mylar balloons, confetti and other decorations. Many food service items such as chip bags and granola bar wrappers also use a plastic-based foil.

If you still have questions or would like a second opinion, please don’t hesitate to contact the EO77 work group at

Yes. The order exempts items that are not for public use (crime scene investigation, laboratory use, etc.) as well as items that are “necessary to respond to any executive action declaring a state of emergency or order of public health emergency.”

The Office of Procurement Services is currently working with our contracted and mandatory source vendors to identify alternatives. Additional guidance is forthcoming. In the meantime please reach out to for assistance with identifying alternatives.

For informational purposes, George Mason University has also developed a comprehensive list of options that provides explanations for why the alternatives do or do not meet EO77 guidelines.

As part of our initiatives to eliminate single-use plastic, we are targeting small (<10 gallons) and personal landfill trash and recycling can liners. After July 21, 2021, these containers will not be serviced by our housekeeping departments and they will no longer provide you with a plastic can liner. See the infographic linked below for further details.

Yes. Single-use plastic items purchased with personal funds are allowed; however, we encourage you to take EO77 principles with you, wherever possible.

Yes. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality guidance says that EO77 applies to all executive branch state agencies under the authority of the governor, including state institutions of higher education and “concessionaires” performing a function for the agency or institute of higher education.

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