Volunteers will examine the impact of the plastic bag tax on the environment | news/arlington

With taxes on single-use plastic bags now in effect across much of Northern Virginia, a local environmental organization is laying the groundwork to see how effective they are at stopping the bags from ending up polluting backyards. local water.

On January 17, more than 100 local residents participated in a litter cleanup in Barcroft Park and around Four Mile Run in Arlington, sponsored by EcoAction Arlington.

The event was part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Day.

“This year has been special because, in addition to cleaning up trash, volunteers have also counted the number of plastic bags and pieces of plastic bags collected,” EcoAction officials said. “The count was administered to collect baseline data following the recent implementation of Arlington County’s 5-cent plastic bag tax.”

The Arlington County government was among several local jurisdictions that implemented a 5-cent-per-bag tax on single-use plastic bags in 2021, under authority granted to them in the brief Democratic majority in the General Assembly. The measures came into effect on January 1.

EcoAction Arlington collected more than 1,400 signatures on a petition and mounted a public awareness campaign including letter writing, social media and speaking to county council, in an effort to gain adoption of the measure.

“The new plastic bag tax is an exciting step forward for Arlington in addressing the problem of plastic pollution,” said Elenor Hodges, executive director of EcoAction Arlington. “Arlington now has the ability to inspire residents to change their behavior and reduce their use of single-use plastic bags.”

During the 2022 cleanup at Barcroft Park, 102 volunteers picked up 219 plastic bags and pieces of plastic bags. Under the direction of EcoAction Arlington, volunteers will continue to monitor the number of plastic bags collected at future cleanup events, to see if there is a decrease.

EcoAction Arlington is a community-based, nonprofit organization that for four decades has worked to improve the environment and create a clean, sustainable community in Arlington. For more information, visit the website at www.ecoactionarlington.org.

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Bryce K. Locke