As of September 2021, City of Falls Church staff are researching the possibility of a plastic bag tax. Learn more below about the process, guidelines, and frequently asked questions.
Why a Plastic Bag Tax Now?
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 allowing localities to create ordinances for a five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags provided by retailers in grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores. The Virginia Tax Commissioner adopted guidelines in September 2021.
Where Would the Revenue Go?
The legislation requires that the plastic bag tax be collected by the retailer at time of purchase, with revenue to be allocated toward:
Affected retailers will be able to retain a two-cent discount in the first year of implementation. Starting January 1, 2023, this discount will decrease to one cent.
How Does a Plastic Bag Tax Help the Environment?
The purpose of the tax is to curb our collective use of disposable plastic bags and to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our local waterways and the damage it causes. Plastic pollution is a serious problem for ecological and health reasons. Plastics do 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 wreak havoc on our natural resources and can find their way into our food and water.
What is the Process for Creating a Plastic Bag Tax Ordinance in the City of Falls Church?
First, staff will need to research the feasibility of the plastic bag tax. This includes identifying which existing retailers would be affected by the ordinance. If research finds that it is a good fit for the City, then staff will create an ordinance proposal for the City Council to review. Council may refer that proposed ordinance to City Boards and Commissions for review and comments. Community members will be invited to provide public comment as well through mail, email, and at public meetings. Should the proposed ordinance move forward, the City Council would consider it at a first reading then a second reading at two separate meetings. If passed, the ordinance would be added to the City Code.
Understanding and incorporating community feedback is an important element in the development of the City's ordinance.
If you would like to comment on the potential for a five-cent plastic bag tax, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a question, please review the Frequently Asked Questions below.
Frequently Asked Questions