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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Plastic bag tax fails in Virginia General Assembly

Plastic bags clog a stream feeding into the Chesapeake Bay.

By Elizabeth Kirchner

Despite widespread grassroots support and the possibility of about $20 million in annual revenue dedicated to Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, a bill establishing a 5-cent “plastic bag tax” failed to get out of committee Jan 21.

The bill, introduced in the Virginia General Assembly by Sen. Chap Peterson, would have imposed the tax on convenience and grocery store sales throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Peterson represents the 34th District, which covers parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Peterson said the bill “gets at the heart of a major environmental issue – the millions of tons of plastic waste which is dumped every year into America’s waterways.” The bill was promoted as “free-market based,” giving consumers the choice of whether to use or re-use plastic bags or bring their own bags.

Many other countries have adopted a bag tax strategy to reduce plastic bag waste, most famously Ireland, which cut plastic bag consumption by 90 percent. The District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Md., and the state of North Carolina have also implemented bag taxes, which have reduced pollution and increased revenue.

During the Finance Committee’s consideration of the bag tax, a Richmond-based clean water group spoke on the bill’s behalf, but a disappointed Peterson said, “The rest of the environmental community was apparently missing in action.”

The senator thanked Girl Scout Troop 1414 from Fairfax and Scout Leader Jenn Robinson, who brought the idea to his attention, writing on his website: “Young leaders: we will get this accomplished in time.”


  1. $20 million collected a nickle at a time suggests that the plastic bag tax is just another example of the creeping taxation that's continually increasing the cost of living in the Commonwealth. This proposal also ignored the expense for stores of collecting the tax which would then be passed on to consumers. Seemingly innocuous taxes on consumers for for bags, take out meals, etc. add up quickly. This region was just hit with a large sales tax increase, so consumers don't need to be paying even more at the register.

    1. > creeping taxation

      > passed on to consumers

      > don't need to be paying even more

      No one who brings their own bag will pay more ...

    2. Unless you exclusively dine out, I suspect you'll require more than one bag to carry your groceries. What do you think the chances of packing that many are? Or, let's say you make an impulse or unexpected purchase and you don't have your bag handy. (Unless, of course, you plan to carry a folded up one in your pocket.) So, this would have ended up as just another nuisance tax that consumers would have been stuck with. The Annandale Giant still offers paper bags and I request those because they have other uses. Of course, I'm sure that the tree huggers would oppose the reintroduction of paper into retail commerce. So, it's fortunate that the legislature blocked this farce because there's little no to it.

  2. Is this the complaint column? Anonymous - the bill did not pass yet you still whine. You must have your head in a plastic bag if you don's see the problem with them. I suggest you move. Take your bags with you

    1. Maybe return to sender can bag you up and return you to wherever that place is where bag ladies live.

    2. That was pretty ugly

    3. Not any uglier than telling the supporter of the bag tax to move. It has worked in DC. Although I find it annoying it has eliminated the plastic bags hanging off of trees as these do here.

    4. "Anonymous 1/25/15 4:46PM" the commenter at "1/22/15 4:29PM" was telling an "opponent" of the bag tax to move.

      I agree with you that it was ugly.

      As a rule, arrogant ignorant liberals are ugly.

      Before you respond with a sharp comeback brush up on your reading comprehension.

    5. Really, where is return to sender? We need him/her now to banish this commentator's rudeness du jour.

  3. Is this off Carlin Springs Rd? It's pretty gross down that stream.