Washington D.C.'s Bag Fee: The tax that works too well?
Washington D.C.'s tax on single-use carryout bags continues to be a great success story. As this CNN article points out, the tax has generated less revenue than initially estimated. In one sense, this is bad news for the Anacostia River, because reduced revenue means less funding for River clean-up. However, it also means that people are already changing their habits and taking less single-use bags at checkout - and less plastic bags are likely to end up clogging the River!
Washington, D.C. Background and Follow-Up on Bag Tax
On January 1, 2010 Washington, D.C. implemented a $0.05 tax on consumers for each disposable carryout bag taken at the time of checkout. The legislation applies to paper and plastic, and the success of its passage can largely be attributed to the early inclusion of stakeholders. Through communication with shopkeepers, it was learned that they would have been highly unfavorable towards a plastic-only tax, which through market pressures would have forced them to offer paper bags thus increasing their overhead.
The district has not yet encountered problems enforcing the new tax, but any type of strict enforcement is on hold in order to give shopkeepers and the general public some time to adapt to the tax. Enforcement and follow-up now falls under the District Department of the Environment,.
More information on Washington D.C.'s fee:
- Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act (bag fee), effective 1/01/10
- Enforcement falls under District Department of the Environment
- The Ferguson Foundation's website tracks the trash collected at yearly River clean-up days, which included thousands of plastic bags (click "data & results" on the left)
- As of September 2010, single-use carryout bag consumption has decreased by at least 50%