Plastic bag taxes have the potential to generate real behavior change among Virginians

From the Roanoke Times

the city of Roanoke became the first Virginia locality to institute a 5-cent tax on single-use plastic bags at grocery, convenience and drug stores. The Roanoke ordinance will go into effect on Jan. 1st. A share of the revenue will help merchants implement the tax.

This is made possible by the General Assembly passing legislation just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving cities and counties the option to levy the disposable bag fee. The Code of Virginia states revenue must go toward environmental cleanup efforts, waste reduction education programs, pollution and litter mitigation initiatives, or the provision of reusable bags to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) recipients.

300 million tons of plastic are generated each year across the globe and half of that volume is for single-use purposes. That’s roughly the weight of the global human population and items like bags often land in our rivers, oceans, streams and other waterways.

As of February, eight states had banned single-use grocery bags altogether, with limited allowances such as those distributed in produce, meat, deli and bulk food departments. Roanoke’s ordinance carries that same exception.