Plastic bag tax to take effect April 1 at Falls Church stores

FALLS CHURCH, VA — The City of Falls Church’s plastic bag tax will go into effect April 1, with approximately 20 stores in the city affected by the new tax, the city announced Friday.

Grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies charge 5 cents at checkout for each plastic bag used. Certain plastic bags, such as those used for meat, seafood and vegetables, are exempt from the tax.

A plastic bag tax for Arlington and Fairfax counties and the city of Alexandria went into effect Jan. 1. A plastic tax in Loudoun County takes effect July 1.

Residents are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to stores or choose a paper bag if one is available.

The city said Friday it distributed 400 tote bags to Falls Church residents in need for use in stores.

Proceeds from the plastic bag levy will go towards environmental clean-up programs, pollution and waste mitigation programs, educational programs on reducing environmental waste, and providing reusable bags to neighbors. in need, the city said.

Localities worked with the Northern Virginia Regional Waste Management Council to coordinate outreach, implementation timelines and common language in ordinances, a regional news site was created to share common information between localities plastic bag tax and frequently asked questions.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a law in 2020 allowing localities to create prescriptions for a 5-cent levy on retail-supplied disposable plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies. Virginia Tax Commissioner guidelines adopted in September 2021.

The plastic bag levy aims to influence consumer behavior by discouraging them from using single-use, disposable plastic bags that often end up in local streams, rivers and lakes.

Bryce K. Locke