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Virginia Beach residents can weigh in on proposed plastic bag fee proposal this week

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Posted at 11:32 AM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 18:10:45-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Residents can weigh in on a proposal to charge people 5 cents per plastic bag they use at grocery stores on Tuesday night.

The proposal is aimed at keeping the bags out of waterways. Advocates say the bags often wind up in the water and are eaten by wildlife, particularly turtles, which can harm them.

Residents can voice their opinions during Tuesday night's city council meeting.

The General Assembly passed a law in 2020 allowing localities the ability to add a fee to plastic bag usage. So far, nine localities have passed ordinances to add fees to bags.

If a customer uses plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores, they would be charged 5 cents per bag. Of that, a cent would go to the business and four of the cents would go to the city to use for environmental purposes, like helping distribute reusable bags in underserved communities.

"It makes so much sense to me that I cannot imagine anybody not supporting it," Councilman Guy Tower, who represents the Oceanfront, said during a meeting earlier this week.

The council is scheduled to vote on July 12.

"What we're hoping to do is use this bag fee as a vehicle to help transition from plastic to reusable bags," said Jim Deppe from Lynnhaven River Now. "Single-use plastic bags are either thrown away or end up in the environment and we want to get plastics out of the environment."

While that proposal is debated in the city, another statewide proposal continues to face scrutiny. During the state budget amendment process, Gov. Youngkin once again proposed suspending the state's 26-cent gas tax for three months, but once again, his efforts failed.

"Democrats failed to put politics aside for the good of Virginians - for a third time," Youngkin tweeted.

"The lead Republican on the finance committee voted with Democrats, next time try making a proposal that can even get the votes of your own side," Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) responded.

Related: Wegmans to remove plastic bags at Virginia, North Carolina stores