ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Your trip to the grocery store could soon cost you a little more. Starting Saturday, customers will be charged for using plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores.

Experts say plastic bags were once thought to be a good alternative to paper bags back around the 1980s, but now they’re becoming a major expense and a hazard to the environment.

“It’s a tremendous litter problem for us. In our streets and in our parks, it’s a big problem. They get into trees and into bushes, but even more than that, they get into our waterways and that’s the real concern for us,” said Nell Boyle, Sustainability and Outreach Coordinator for the City of Roanoke.

Boyle explained that once a plastic bag enters a waterway, it breaks down into microfibers and ultimately decreases the quality of the water supply.

Beginning Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, customers shopping in the City of Roanoke will be charged $0.05 per plastic bag taken from a grocery store, convenience store, or drugstore. Of that money, the business will keep $0.02 for the first year and $0.01 for the second year.

The city will keep the remainder of the money, which Boyle said will be used for “environmental cleanup, education about plastic bags, education about litter and liter mitigation, and then also some free bags for SNAP and WIC recipients.”

Click here to read more about the city’s Plastic Bag Tax.