The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved a disposable plastic bag tax of five cents per plastic bag that will take effect on July 1, 2022. The new tax will be collected on purchases made at supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies throughout the county, including those within the incorporated cities of the county. The measure aims to reduce plastic pollution in the region.
“Adopting this program will provide Loudoun County with a way to reduce environmental damage from disposable plastic bags by encouraging shoppers to reuse durable bags,” said Sterling District Supervisor and Board Vice President Koran T. Saines. . “Plastic bags pollute our precious land and water resources. People have a choice when they shop: They can avoid the tax altogether by bringing a reusable bag to the store.”
The tax does not apply to restaurants, food banks, farmers’ markets, or clothing stores. It also does not apply to:
Durable plastic bags specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
Plastic bags used solely to wrap, contain, or package ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, produce, unwrapped bulk foods, or perishable foods to prevent damage or contamination.
Plastic bags used to carry dry cleaning or prescription medications.
Multiple plastic bags that are sold in packages and are designed to be used as bags for garbage, pet waste or to remove leaves.
Loudoun County joins other jurisdictions in the region that have adopted or are currently considering a tax on disposable plastic bags. The five-cent tax went into effect in Fairfax County, Arlington County, and the cities of Alexandria, Fredericksburg and Roanoke on January 1, 2022. Prince William County is considering a similar tax for fiscal year 2023. Northern Virginia local governments are working together through the Northern Virginia Waste Management Board on this initiative.
Recent updates to the Code of Virginia gave localities the ability to enact a tax to address community and environmental issues associated with single-use plastic bags, including litter, pollution, and landfill and drop-in center issues. recycling. Lightweight plastic bags are commonly found in waterways as litter and remain as pollutants. Unlike natural materials, plastic never fully degrades. Over time, it breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics that can end up in food and water and can harm wildlife.
Revenue generated from the tax can only be spent on programs that address litter and pollution or help low-income residents obtain durable, reusable shopping bags free of charge. In addition to supporting the purchase of reusable bags for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children Program, the Loudoun County program can be used to expand existing environmental programs, including:
Enhanced litter reduction initiatives.
Enhanced education and outreach programs on waste reduction and recycling.
Expansion of the county’s household hazardous waste and electronics recycling programs.
The Loudoun County Department of Economic Development has begun reaching out to local retailers to explain the scope of the single-use plastic bag tax and will continue to work with local businesses to help them prepare to collect the tax beginning July 1. of 2022.