A first-of-its-kind law is hitting Washington, D.C., shoppers, who must pay 5 cents for every plastic or paper disposable bag they use when buying food or alcohol.
Most of the money raised from the new law, which passed the D.C. Council unanimously in June and took effect New Year’s Day, will go toward cleaning up the city’s Anacostia River. City research has found plastic bags are a major source of the river’s trash.
“We want everyone to know that you can save the river, and 5 cents, if you bring your own reusable bag to the store instead,” said Mayor Adrian Fenty in announcing the “Skip the Bag, Save the River” initiative. The city and stores are kicking it off by handing out free reusable bags.
Bag-fee proposals have been popping up elsewhere in the USA, but Washington D.C. says it’s the first to pass one. They’ve been introduced in state Legislatures in California, Maryland and Virginia.
In February, Colorado’s state Legislature rejected a proposed bill that would have charged shoppers 6 cents per plastic bag used, according to the Denver Daily News. In August, Seattle voters rejected by a wide ratio (58% to 42%) a 20-cent grocery bag fee. (More info on the effort is available here.) In New York City, Mayor Mike Bloomberg sought a 5-cent-a-bag fee last year but, facing opposition, backed down.
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