|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.
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.”