Plastic Bag Tax to Begin Jan. 1; Countywide Carbon Neutrality Goal Adopted

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The Board of Supervisors supported two new environmental actions Sept. 14 intended to further equip the county to battle climate change and improve our collective ecosystems and practices.



The new 5-cent plastic bag tax applies to disposable plastic bags provided for in-store, to-go, delivery and curbside pick-up purchases from grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores located within Fairfax County and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Exceptions include plastic bags that are solely used to wrap or package food items such as chicken to avoid damage or contamination, as well as plastic bags used to carry dry cleaning or prescription drugs. Multiple plastic bags sold in packages and intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or leaf removal bags are also excluded.

The new plastic bag tax will be administered and enforced by the Virginia Department of Taxation and the revenues will be remitted to the county monthly. This revenue may be used to fund environmental cleanup programs, pollution and litter mitigation programs, educational programs on environmental waste reduction.



The Board of Supervisors also accepted the county’s first Communitywide Energy and Climate Action Plan, which sets a goal of achieving carbon neutrality within the community by 2050.

Specific goals include retrofitting at least 100,000 housing units with energy efficiency measures by 2030, and increasing transit and non-motorized commuting to 30 percent, including telework, by 2030. These goals directly address the two largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Fairfax County: energy use in buildings, with 49 percent of total emissions, and transportation with 44 percent.

Unlike other climate action plans created by comparable municipalities across the United States, CECAP was developed by a working group composed of community members and representatives from area businesses and nonprofits.


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