Military Bases Phasing Out Single-Use Plastic Bags

Single-Use Plastic Bags

Disposable plastic bags will be banned from military bases around the globe. This is a major change that will significantly impact plastic trash and litter. Learn more about the commissary plastic bag ban and what this means for the planet, and other institutions interested in reducing their environmental impact can learn.

Commissary Bag Bans

Starting on March 15, 2024, the commissaries at Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam discontinued single-use plastic bags. Guam’s bag ban became effective on January 1, 2021.

On April 30, 2024, the two commissary locations at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and the Army’s Schofield Barracks will be next up to ban plastic bags. The bag ban movement in Hawaii started at the county level. The first county bans began in 2011, and before long, most of the state was impacted by a bag ban. Hawaii has since attempted to implement a state-wide ban on plastic bags, single-use plastic utensils, straws, and polystyrene containers.

The local bans did not apply to the bases, but the military bag ban will now bring the bases into compliance with local law. “The Defense Commissary Agency is committed to complying with applicable local and territorial laws restricting the use of plastic and paper single-use bags,” explained Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Keith Desbois.

Bag Ban Timeline

There are 236 commissaries on U.S. military bases, and this change will be rolled out to the commissaries. Commissaries located in areas with existing plastic bag bans will be prioritized. Officials have stated that bans will be implemented using a phased approach. A timeline for the full bag ban implementation has not been provided.

Benefits of the Bag Ban

Some bases are located in areas with existing bans, so aligning the base with local laws makes sense and helps military members transition between the base and the community.

The Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, already has a successful recycling program that effectively reduces solid waste and conserves energy and water. Eliminating single-use plastic bags is not likely to be an issue and will help further streamline recycling and sustainability efforts. Banning disposable plastic bags will reduce trash production and lessen the base’s environmental impact.

The U.S. military is setting an example of how large institutions can reduce their use of disposable plastic. Bag bans are challenging, and implementing them across hundreds of bases is a significant undertaking. Hopefully, the bag ban will serve as a guideline or inspiration to other large organizations to implement bag bans of their own.

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