The Virginia Chapter, working with a coalition of other groups including: the Virginia Conservation Network, the Virginia Aquarium, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environment Virginia, VALCV, and Litter Free Virginia, helped pass plastic bag bills S11 and H534 which allow local governments to pass ordinances taxing plastic bags up to 5 cents per bag. Although the Chapter pushed for a statewide bill that would have banned plastic bags and put a fee on paper bags, this legislation will get the ball moving in a Dillon rule state that currently has no restrictions on bags. Governor Northam declined to sign the bill by midnight on April 11, 2020, so the bill is now law and will take effect January 1, 2021.
As Virginians, the health of our waterways, beaches, and fisheries is critical to our local economy and our way of life. Plastic bags are one of the most common forms of plastic pollution found in beach clean ups and pose a significant threat to our waterways, wildlife, and seafood.
Plastic bags not sent to landfills are often put in recycling bins, where they clog recycling machines and cost recyclers and taxpayers money to remove. Given the option to pay a small fee for these polluting, unnecessary bags, or choose a more cost effective, sustainable, reusable bag, the public has overwhelmingly chosen to bring their own bag.