Most-populous Virginia county approves tax on plastic bags

Most-populous Virginia county approves tax on plastic bags
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The board of supervisors in Fairfax County, Va., voted Tuesday to impose a 5-cent tax on plastic bags used at grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores

The measure, passed in a 9-1 vote, takes effect Jan. 1.

The new tax will not apply in certain situations, such as bags used for dry cleaning, prescription drugs, garbage, pet waste and leaf removal.

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Revenue raised by the tax will help fund environmental cleanup and litter mitigation programs in the state.

Proponents said the measure will encourage the use of reusable bags and cut down on the use of plastics.

“Plastic bags are one of the most common items found during community cleanups of our parks, streams, and lakes. They damage aquatic ecosystems and the micro-particles of plastics created when they break down make their way into our water sources,” Braddock Supervisor James Walkinshaw (D), a member of the county board, said in a statement.

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“This measure will reduce plastic pollution and the modest funds collected will be reinvested into litter prevention and to providing reusable bags for low-income community members.”

Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity, the lone dissenting vote on Tuesday, said residents who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic should not have to pay any new taxes. 

“Residents have seen a 45 percent increase in their taxes over the last decade, inflation rising at the fastest rate in 12 years, on top of the impacts of the pandemic during which many have lost their loved ones, homes, jobs and businesses," Herrity said in a Facebook post. "It should go without saying that this is the wrong time for a new tax, especially one that will disproportionately impact people who are already struggling.”

Updated at 3:29 p.m.