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Virginia Beach City Council set to vote on plastic bag fee July 5

Your trip to a grocery store in Virginia Beach could cost you a bit more change.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Members of Virginia Beach City Council are weighing the possibility of a tax on single-use plastic bags. Each would cost five cents if you don't bring one of your own. 

Some other parts of the Commonwealth, such as the City of Roanoke, Fairfax County and Alexandria, have already picked up on this initiative. 

"It's just another thing to think about, another thing to worry about," said Karen Baker, a Virginia Beach resident in the courthouse area. 

Baker said she's not totally on board with a proposed plastic bag fee in her city, however, she said, "I do like the fact that we are trying to become a little bit more environmentally conscious, but grocery bags, really?"

An alternative would be to bring reusable bags. 

"I sometimes forget to put them back into the car when I put them into the house," Baker added. 

On Tuesday, more than a dozen people shared their stance on the issue with council members. Some, such as Melissa Assalone of the Virginia Food Industry Association, expressed opposition.

"With ongoing inflation, sourcing and supply chain challenges, we currently need flexibility in our approach to addressing single-use plastic bags," said Assalone. 

"It is tone-deaf for you to enact this additional tax or administrative burden on us. Many of us already responsibly reuse these plastic bags," said resident Robert Mandigo. 

Most speakers on Tuesday, however, voiced support.  

"Let's not forget that two-thirds of Virginia waterways drain to the Chesapeake Bay," said resident and local advocate Lisa Renee Jennings. "We've all seen plastic bags littering roads, streets, parks and river banks."

"It is equitable, good for economy, and above all, good for environment, " said resident and parent Hannah Sobol. 

"I think it's okay. I'm really not a big fan of all the plastic," said Bob Johns, of Kempsville, while on a supermarket trip Tuesday. 

If the initiative receives approval in Virginia Beach, it would apply to grocery stores, drugstores, convenience stores and larger retailers with any of the aforementioned.  

"As long as they use it for environmental and just don't put it in the general fund," Johns added.

Leaders said one of the five cents per bag would go back to the vendor. The other four would go back to the city for environmental purposes.

Members with the Virginia Beach City Council are expected to vote on whether to move forward with a fee on July 5. 

CHANGES AT WEGMANS

Supermarket chain Wegmans will remove single-use plastic grocery bags, starting on July 1.

Corporate leaders said that takes effect at all four North Carolina locations and their six Virginia stores — including Virginia Beach. They'll still sell paper bags for five cents each. 

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