Arlington’s push for a five-cent fee on disposable shopping bags could affect the entire country. Today, on Earth Day, Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th), said he will introduce H.R. 1628, the Trash Reduction Act.
The bill would impose a five-cent retail tax on disposable carryout bags at grocery and convenience stores and would provide a one-cent tax incentive for every recycled bag for businesses that set up their own recycling programs.
“Each Earth Day millions of Americans participate in projects and raise awareness across the country," said Moran. "This awareness is reflected, in part, by the strong interest in recycling programs. The Trash Reduction Act will provide individuals the ability to help the environment on a daily basis.”
Passing the “Bag Tax” is easier said than done. Moran introduced a similar bill last year, Virginia State Delegate Adam Ebbin’s (D-49) “Bag Tax” bill died in committee in the General Assembly’s last session.
The D.C. Council imposed a five-cent bag tax last year. “I got used to it real quick and started bringing my own bags to the store,” said Andrew Wright, who moved to D.C. from Alexandria, last summer. “For me, I think it worked. When I go to a store in Virginia it almost feels weird with all the bags being used.”
“Hey, can we get any more stupid?” asked Dave Carbeck in a recent Facebook post. “Lets just kill off all business and get it over with! A tax on BAGS??? I would suggest that before you look to create new taxes, that you first try to reduce the cost of government; thereby not needing a new tax on something as ridiculous as grocery bags!”
More than 65 percent of Americans oppose a bag tax, according to a recent poll by the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Consumers should be free to carry home their groceries in whatever bags they choose, without being forced to pay a hefty tax,” said J. Justin Wilson, the center's senior research analyst. “Instead of banning or taxing plastic bags, lawmakers should do a better job educating the general public about recycling their plastic bags.”
The bill is intended to change public behavior, said Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola. “There are multiple examples of public policy fees intended to change behavior--on liquor and cigarettes for instance. Society has made a determination that those two items are not good for your health,” she said.
“I don’t know why we’re afraid to take helpful steps when it comes to the environment, which is a precious resource," she noted. "There is a huge communal benefit for us and future generations.”