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DC Bag Tax Nets $150,000 For Anacostia River Clean Up

Photo courtesy of
‘Reusable Giant Bags’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

The District’s 5-cent bag tax, which started in January 2010,  netted approximately $150,000 during its first month of enactment. According to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, only 3 million bags were issued in the month of January compared to 2009′s 22.5 million bags per month average, and it appears that the new law DC shoppers has been successful in altering  shopping bag habits faster than was expected.

Prior to enactment, the new tax was estimated to generate $10 million in revenue over the next four years and would fund the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund. Given January’s results it appears that consumer behavior has changed so rapidly that this revenue may fall short of its original projection.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Bag Fees May Come to MD, VA

Photo courtesy of
‘Reusable Giant Bags’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Break out those reusable totes! DC’s new 5 cent fee for disposable bags is such a great idea that Virginia and Maryland may soon follow suit. That is, if two new bills pass.

This week, Maryland Del. Alfred Carr (D-18) introduced a bill patterned after the District’s that would give 3 to 4 cents per disposable paper or plastic bag to the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund to pay for pollution mitigation.

Last week, Virginia Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-49) introduced a similar bill that works the same way and would benefit the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund. He says this approach could reduce taxpayers’ costs for cleaning waterways and lower stores’ expenses on bags.

Both bills exempt some bags, including those for meat and produce, restaurant carry-out and dry cleaning.

The Daily Feed

Area Stores Help You Avoid the Bag Tax

Photo courtesy of
‘If Poop Grew On Trees’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

The bag tax is going into effect on Friday, and you’ll be paying 5 cents for every disposable bag you use. But to take the sting out of the tax while still getting shoppers to use reusable bags (which is the point of all this anyway), several stores are partnering with the city government to make reusable bags freely available for a limited time to their customers.

At DC Giant locations, baggers will be putting customers’ purchases into reusable bags for free this Friday for a week starting this Friday, up to a quarter million bags (thanks for the correction from Giant’s PR people!). Harris Teeter locations will be giving away bags to VIC card users who spend at least $20. Safeway will be giving away reusable bags through local non-profits, while CVS will be giving them away at their locations (though Wells’ office doesn’t specify for how long). Target, on the other hand, will be providing a 5 cent discount (in addition to the 5 cent bag tax you avoid paying) for every reusable bag you provide.

Personally, I’m not a great rememberer-of-reusable-bags, but when I use them, I always ask myself why I haven’t developed better habits about it. Aside from any environmental or cost concerns, I can fit a lot more groceries in my one Kiva foldable bag (hell yeah that’s an affiliate link), and the sturdy straps on a reusable bag make it a lot easier to carry a heavy order home.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Bag It

Photo courtesy of
‘String grocery bag’
courtesy of ‘bradipo’

Starting Jan. 1, if you want to tote your vittles or booze home from the store in a disposable bag, it’ll cost you 5 cents. All monies collected will go to the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund to clean up the river.

Yesterday, DC announced the Skip the Bag, Save the River education campaign and, in a sign that someone’s thinking, that it would give free reusable bags to 122,000 low-income residents and senior citizens.

I am all for this. In addition to keeping the river clean, it could save DC residents money. Money spent on trash removal now is passed along in water bills and taken away from programs that help people. And it will lower the environmental costs of producing one-use bags from oil or trees, transporting them, and disposing of them.

One tip: Come Jan. 1, keep your empty bags by your door or in your car where they’re easy to see and grab.