Bag Bill surcharge begins Jan 1st

Beginning January 1, 2010 the “bag bill” approved by DC Council and signed into law by Mayor Fenty signed into law earlier this year will go into effect. District businesses will charge customers five cents for every disposable paper or plastic carryout bag with the proceeds going to the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund. The bag fee will not apply to bags used for newspapers, produce, hardware, frozen foods, plants, bakery items or prescription drugs.

A portion of the revenue raised from the bill will go towards education and providing reusable bags to low-income residents. A Skip the Bag, Save the River campaign is distributing 250,000 free reusable bags this month at locations around the district.

I anticipate some customers will arrive at the check out register in January unaware of this change. Hopefully those who are surprised by the surcharge don’t shoot the messenger. The cashiers didn’t pass the bill or design the awareness program. Nonetheless as a former bagger during my mid-teens I expect short term pain during the transition and for cashiers to take the brunt of it.

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  1. 1

    Anonymous says

    I support this as I typically bring my own bags to Safeway. My only question is how they will handle the fee at the Safeway self check-out if we bring our own bags.

  2. 2

    Tom Veil says

    I can understand why produce is exempt. But hardware, frozen foods, and prescription drugs? Creating all these exemptions will just make enforcement harder.

  3. 3

    Anonymous says

    the issue i have with it, is as a dogwalker this is how i get bags for cleanup, and I already see way too many people around the area not cleaning up after their dogs!

  4. 4

    Anonymous says

    so keep using store bags to pick up after ur dog and pay $0.05 for the bags. Prob solved….

  5. 6

    Anonymous says

    @prior Anon: That was my first reaction too when I first heard of this bill. I did not see a strong connection to bags that aren't littered and the river. However some sources I read claimed that even bags in the landfill blow away and end up in the river.

    In the end I don't personally focus on the river aspect of this campaign. The compelling argument to me is that non-biodegradable plastic is not appropriate for such a disposable and fleeting use as holding groceries for 10 minutes. Not when we have viable alternatives. I'll still pay the 5 cents and use plastic bags for the spontaneous small trips to the store. But for the big trips I'll use canvas bags. If most of us do this and other jurisdictions eventually follow suit it can make a difference.