Lawmaker proposes plastic bag tax

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's back to work for the General Assembly this week, and by the end of this session there could be a new tax on plastic bags.

A local lawmaker is proposing adding a $.20 tax for each plastic bag you get at the store.

Delegate Joe Morrissey hopes we'll all start bringing our own bags.

The reactions from local stores and some shoppers about the tax are just as varied as paper or plastic.

Mija White opted for plastic Sunday evening while buying a few items at the Strawberry Street Market. She often forgets to bring reusable bags with her, but a 20-cent tax on plastic bags would be a good reminder.

"I would think twice before going to the store without my bag and a lot of other people would as well," said White.

Morrissey's office says the average Virginian uses 300 plastic bags a year and each one of those bags takes thousands of years to break down.

But will charging 20 cents per plastic bag convince people to use more reusable bags when they head to the store? Some shoppers we spoke to say their wallet can be very motivating.

"People will take it seriously if it is too high. If it's 5 cents, nobody is going to think twice about it, 20 cents, people will think twice," said White.

Other shoppers say a bag tax wouldn't change their habits, just their attitude.

"I wouldn't be happy about it but I'd probably just pay it because who wants to carry about a bunch of bags to a corner market like this? I'm not going to do it," said Scott Nelson.

Some retailers have opposed similar taxes, but Pete Suder at Lombardy Market says it probably wouldn't hurt business.

"They'd probably just carry it out on their own without getting a bag," said Suder.

Morrissey's office says only about one percent of plastic bags are recycled. Washington D.C. has a similar 5 cent tax on plastic bags while 24 countries have banned plastic bags altogether.

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