In the 2020 legislative session of the General Assembly,  Virginia finally passed  a bill allowing municipalities to write an ordinance placing a 5 cent fee on single use plastic bags at grocery store, drugstores and convenience stores.

Our nearby neighbors in Washington, DC  and many municipalities in Maryland, as well as cities and counties all around the country, years ago enacted fees and bans on single use plastic bags to address plastic pollution and it’s impact on the environment.

Roanoke City has taken the lead in Virginia, has written an ordinance and has scheduled January 1, 2022 as the effective date to begin collecting the fee. Bravo Roanoke!

Fairfax County has said they are  waiting for more guidance from the State Tax Commissioner before they can write an ordinance for the county. The Tax Commissioner has promised to work on guidance later this year. But, now that Roanoke has written it’s ordinance and has a plan for implementation, perhaps other municipalities including Fairfax County will follow.

What we need is action now! There is no justification to delay for studies, surveys etc., as we have the experience of other jurisdictions  that have implemented plastic bag fees. Time has run out to address the problem of plastic pollution, and this only one small step towards addressing this vast problem.  It easily can be done. Kudos to Roanoke City for moving on this issue and for showing the rest of the state the way.

Now, it is Fairfax County’s turn !!

-Helene Shore

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