Bring Your Own Bag

BYOB FXBG 4CLR Logo-01The City of Fredericksburg implemented the five-cent ($0.05) tax on disposable one-time-use plastic bags provided to customers in local grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies within city limits (i.e. 22401) as of January 1, 2022.  

Eligible stores collect the plastic bag tax at the time of the sale at the checkout. If you bring your own bag, and skip the disposable bag at checkout, then you will not be charged the five-cent tax. Not only are you saving five cents per bag, but you are also helping reduce waste and preserve our environment.

Why launch the Bring Your Own Bag campaign?

Fredericksburg City Council adopted the plastic bag tax in an effort to reduce the use of single-use disposable plastic bags in the City and promote the use of durable multiuse bags. This initiative is an extension of City Council’s desired future state for a Green, Clean Environment in which “Fredericksburg is a responsible, modern city with a quality of life that is guaranteed by thoughtful environmental stewardship.” Read more about Fredericksburg City Council’s 2036 Vision Statement here.

Bring your own bag and save the five-cent tax!

Informational Flier in English and Spanish (PDF)

Plastic Bag Tax Information and Overview

Legislation enacted during the Regular Session of the 2020 General Assembly (House Bill 534 (2020 Acts of Assembly, Chapter 1022) and Senate Bill 11 (2020 Acts of Assembly, Chapter 1023)) authorizes any county or city to adopt by ordinance the Virginia Disposable Plastic Bag Tax. The tax will be administered by the Virginia Department of Taxation. View legislation here.

As of January 1, 2022, there is a five-cent tax on single-use disposable plastic bags provided to customers in grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores in the City of Fredericksburg (22401 zip code). This tax is being administered by the Virginia Department of Taxation. Read the VA TAX full guidelines here.

Frequently Asked Questions

City of Fredericksburg Plastic Bag Tax FAQs (PDF) - Read frequently asked questions about Fredericksburg's plastic bag tax here.

Which businesses does this tax affect?

Virginia Department of Taxation’s guidelines define affected retailers as:

  • “Grocery store” means an establishment that has an enclosed room in a permanent structure and that sells food and other items intended for human consumption, including a variety of ingredients commonly used in the preparation of meals. This definition does not include food banks, farmers markets, or mobile food units.
  • “Drugstore” means an establishment that sells medicines prepared by a licensed pharmacist pursuant to a prescription and other medicines and items for home and general use.
  • “Convenience store” means an establishment that (i) has an enclosed room in a permanent structure where stock is displayed and offered for sale and (ii) maintains an inventory of edible items intended for human consumption consisting of a variety of such items of the types normally sold in grocery stores.
  • Larger retailers that contain a grocery store, a convenience store, or a drug store are subject to the tax. Such retailers shall collect the tax on all taxable plastic bags provided, regardless of the items sold.

What items are being taxed?

A disposable plastic bag subject to the tax includes any plastic bag provided by a grocery store, convenience store, or drugstore to a customer at the point of purchase to transport items purchased and not intended for reuse. Dealers should not collect the tax on the following items:

  • Durable plastic bags, with handles, that are specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and that are at least four mils thick;
  • Plastic bags that are solely used to wrap, contain, or package ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, produce, unwrapped bulk food items, or perishable food items in order to avoid damage or contamination;
  • Plastic bags used to carry dry cleaning or prescription drugs; or
  • Multiple plastic bags sold in packages and intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or leaf removal bags.

As the tax is imposed on each disposable plastic bag provided to a customer rather than the items purchased by the customer, refunds of the Disposable Plastic Bag Tax should not be allowed in situations where the customer returns the items purchased or the bag to the dealer.

Where does this tax money go?

Tax revenue will help fund:

  • Litter cleanups
  • Community pollution prevention education programs
  • Mitigating pollution and litter
  • Provide reusable bags to recipients of certain federal food support programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) benefits.

Funding for the provision of reusable bags to other city residents would need to come out of alternative funding sources.


Business Information

To compensate dealers for the cost of collecting, accounting for, and remitting the tax, dealers are permitted to keep a portion of the tax collected. Dealers must account for the discount in the form of a deduction when submitting their tax return and paying the amount due in a timely manner. The amount of the discount will decrease over time as follows:

  • Beginning January 1, 2021, and ending January 1, 2023, dealers are allowed to retain two cents ($0.02) from the tax collected on each disposable plastic bag
  • Beginning January 1, 2023, dealers are allowed to retain one cent ($0.01) from the tax collected on each disposable plastic bag

Virginia Department of Taxation

The Department will administer the tax similarly to the Retail Sales and Use Tax. As with the local option Retail Sales and Use Tax, the Department of Taxation will be solely responsible for administering the tax, including auditing and collecting of the tax. Read more here.

Contact Information:

Virginia Department of Taxation 

Virginia Department of Taxation, Attention: Disposable Plastic Bag Tax, 

PO Box 27185

Richmond, VA 23261-71858

Phone: (804) 367-8037 

Website: www.tax.virginia.gov 

Education: Plastic PollutionTrash bag in tree

The Negative Impacts of Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags provide convenience. But when this convenience is weighed against their negative implications, it’s easy to see why plastic is a detriment and just not the best solution.

Single-use plastic bags are recyclable, but recycling rates of these bags are very low. Disposable plastic bags are likely to become stuck in recycling processing equipment which is a hassle and slows down the entire operation. Most recycling facilities refuse to accept them due to the added complication. Since it is hard for most people to recycle single-use plastic bags, they end up in landfills or as litter.

Discarded plastic bags pose a risk to animals and their habitats. Animals may eat the plastic bags mistaking them for food which can lead to serious health problems and even death. When animals become tangled in bags they may be unable to protect and fend for themselves. These plastic litter complications can have larger impacts beyond wildlife. Studies have shown that plastic litter has an impact on the food chain, so you and your family may end up facing consequences as a result of plastic litter.

The Reality of Plastic Bags

  • Made from nonrenewable resources
  • Not biodegradable
  • Likely to end up as litter
  • Can kill animals, particularly marine animals that mistake plastic bags as food

Cost of Plastic Cleanup

Cleaning up this mounting litter is necessary, but that carries a hefty price tag. Leaving the litter is not really an option. Litter is an eyesore that can negatively impact property values, but the trash can also block drainage systems and cause flooding and other problems.

Reusable Bags & Your Impact

You can have a big impact by switching to reusable bags. There are many estimates as to just how many single-use plastic bags are replaced by using one reusable grocery bag for one year or a lifetime. The estimates range from a savings of 100 bags a year to 700 bags per year. We estimate that 500 single-use plastic bags are replaced by using one reusable bag for one year.

Example) If someone shops for 70 years (from 18 years old until they are 88 years old), they will save 350,000 bags.

The main advantage of reusable bags is that they can do everything plastic bags can do, without the negative environmental impact. Reusable bags are constructed from recycled or sustainable materials and are designed to be used multiple times.

The Reality of Reusable Bags

  • Made from recycled or sustainable materials
  • Constructed to be used multiple times
  • Do not significantly contribute to litter
  • Likely to be disposed of in a responsible manner

Over the next year, this ordinance can reduce the amount of plastic bags created and thrown away while increasing revenue for environmental cleanups and education. By bringing a reusable bag to the store, citizens can do their part to make meaningful change for the City of Fredericksburg by supporting a green, clean environment.

For more information on the City’s green initiatives, please contact MacKenzie Bellimam, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, by email, or by calling Public Works at 540-372-1023.