Senate, House Advance Plastic Bag Tax, But Questions Remain

Feb 13, 2020

Grocery stores across Virginia may soon have to pay a tax for plastic bags.

That age-old question of paper or plastic could soon come with a wrinkle, a five-cent fee for the use of a plastic bag. The bill that emerged out of the Senate mandates the plastic bag fee in Northern Virginia and makes it optional everywhere else.

Credit AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli

Senator Adam Ebbin is a Democrat from Alexandria, and he introduced the bill.  “We know that people are ingesting thousands of micro-particles of plastic every day, that newborns are born with plastic inside their body, that seafood contains it. We also know that it’s harmful to the environment, and that it’s not biodegradable and there are alternatives like reusable bags.”

Parker Slaybaugh at the Virginia Food Industry Association says grocery stores want consistency.  “When we start looking at implementing individual county by county or city by city taxes or bans that becomes very difficult from a supply chain aspect. We now have to look at every single store and determine whether or not we can offer a bag or tax the bags that we offer.”

Lawmakers are also considering two bills from the House. One would make the five-cent tax optional for localities. The other would mandate the tax across the state.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.