Plastic bag levy could net Fairfax County over $1 million in first year | FFXnow

A plastic grocery bag (via Christopher Vega/Unsplash)

Fairfax County is on track to generate more than $1 million in revenue in the first year of its plastic bag tax.

In the first five months after the tax took effect Jan. 1, the county government received more than $500,000, the Office of Environment and Energy Coordination said in a note to the supervisory board.

That’s even with retailers allowed to keep two cents out of every five collected on every disposable plastic bag they distribute in 2022, a provision intended to offset the costs of plastic transition for businesses.

The OEEC projects the tax will generate $1.2 million for the county in its inaugural year.

“Revenues will likely fluctuate in the first few years of implementation,” OEEC director Kambiz Agazi wrote to the board, noting that the amount of tax withheld by retailers will drop to one cent on January 1, 2023. has been observed in other jurisdictions with a tax on plastic bags, in the long term, tax revenues are expected to decline as consumers begin to reduce their use of disposable plastic bags.

The revenue the county has ‘unfortunately’ collected so far suggests many community members have yet to get into the habit of bringing their own bags to grocery stores and other businesses, observed yesterday (Tuesday) Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck at the end. advice environmental committee meeting.

By a matter of days, Fairfax County became the first northern Virginia locality to pass a plastic bag tax in September. The 5 cent levy was made possible by a state law 2020 and is meant to encourage people to use more sustainable alternatives.

Under the law, proceeds can be used to support educational programs, clean up pollution and litter, and provide reusable bags to people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, infants and children (WIC) food benefits.

In his memo, Agazi proposes to allocate $511,000 already raised from the tax to existing county programs, including:

The plan also designates funding for technology that collects litter from county waterways, gloves and other materials for volunteer stream cleanups, and reusable bags for SNAP and WIC recipients, guardians. -eating and farmers markets.

For future recipients, staff proposed having a formal process where county agencies apply for funding. A project selection committee would prioritize submitted projects, which would then be reviewed by the county’s chief financial officer and the Department of Management and Budget.

In addition to meeting state criteria for the plastic bag tax, projects should be county-based or part of a regional initiative that directly benefits the county and should begin the same year as the money. is requested. Nor can they demand new permanent positions, be part of the capital improvement programor have other sources of funding.

“This is an opportunity for us to reallocate those funds, if you will, to hopefully make a difference in our stewardship of the environment,” Storck said.

Photo via Christopher Vega/Unsplash

Bryce K. Locke