After a campaign by FACS activists, allied groups, and community members, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 9-0 on September 14 to become the first county in Virginia to enact a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic bags. Four days later, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria followed Fairfax County’s lead to enact their own measures.
The legislation signed into law by Governor Northam earlier this year limited the tax to plastic bags provided by grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores. It will go into effect in Fairfax County on January 1, 2022.
Plastic bags take an enormous amount of fossil fuel to produce, resulting in more planet-warming greenhouse gases, and are used for an average of only 12 minutes before being thrown away or littered. They often end up in our waterways where they turn into microplastics and are eaten by wildlife, or cause toxic air pollution if incinerated. Single use plastic bags are the third most littered item in Virginia waterways.
Our targeted campaign generated 330 emails to supervisors, video and in-person testimony before the full board, and individual meetings by FACS Advocacy Teams comprised of constituents. Thanks to everyone who got involved!
During August, a team of FACS issue experts analyzed the 214-page, $750K Community-wide Climate and Energy Action Plan (CECAP). On September 15, the Board of Supervisors voted to accept the plan. CECAP goals are strong. Along with sector goals, there are three benchmark goals:
How do we achieve the 2030 goal of a 50% reduction — only nine years away? There are 12 Strategies and 37 Actions in CECAP to reduce climate change in the county. FACS believes we must get to work on immediate priorities identified by the team of FACS issue experts now.
Minutes after the board formally accepted the Climate Action Plan, FACS Chair Eric Goplerud delivered testimony on the importance of immediate action. You can read Eric’s testimony, FACS’s recommended priorities based on CECAP, and view a slide show in one of our recent blog posts.