New Year Brings New Tax on Plastic Bags in Mount Vernon

New Year Brings New Tax on Plastic Bags in Mount Vernon

BYOB now means ‘bring your own bag.’

On Jan. 1, 2022, Fairfax County joined many jurisdictions including Arlington and City of Alexandria with a disposable plastic bag tax of five cents per bag, charged at the point of sale to consumers at grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores. To avoid the tax, consumers may bring reusable shopping bags. Paper bags are not subject to the five-cent tax, although certain retailers may have their own fees for paper bags, including Wegman's at the Hilltop Shopping Center in southern Alexandria.

The purpose of the tax is to curb the collective use of disposable plastic bags, reduce the amount of plastic waste in local waterways, roadways, and open spaces and the damage it causes. Plastic pollution is a problem for ecological and health reasons, the county said, and it is not biodegrade like wood or other natural materials. Instead, plastic materials photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces but never fully disappearing. Pieces of plastic both large and very, very small can find their way into the food and water supply for humans and wildlife.

Several neighboring jurisdictions have also enacted a disposable plastic bag tax. Arlington County and the City of Alexandria also have a bag tax effective Jan. 1, 2022, while the City of Falls Church’s tax will take effect April 1, 2022.

Revenue from this tax will be collected by the Virginia Department of Taxation and will be disbursed to each locality monthly. The bag revenue will go to:

·         Environmental cleanup programs

·         Pollution and litter mitigation programs

·         Educational programs on environmental waste reduction

·         Provision of reusable bags to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) benefits


What do you think of the bag fee that is charged at stores now?

“I’m for it, I try to bring my own” 

– Diane Morano, visiting friends in Mount Vernon

“I’m from California, I’m used to it, I have reusable bags for this purpose” 

– Amber Larue, on a temporary assignment in Northern Virginia

“I don’t know what the money is going to be used for”

 – Chris Ames, Alexandria resident

“It’s unnecessary, I understand we should save more of these bags but it’s awful” 

– Jaqueline Martinez, Belle View resident