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Committees: Bring A Bag Or Pay A Nickel

Two D.C. Council committees approved legislation today that would require consumers to pay 5 cents for paper or plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and other retail outlets where food is involved.

The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 could end up being the toughest law on plastic and paper bags in the country, forcing consumers to use reusable bags.

According to a press release from Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), "the Committee on Finance and Revenue and the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment held back-to-back meetings to mark-up and approve the legislation this morning."

The idea is that the legislation will target plastic bags, which are helping to pollute the Anacostia River. Plastic bags travel as litter into storm drains and intor the river. Paper bags was included in the legislation when store owners explained the expense of providing consumers with paper, instead of plastic.

"Over 20,000 tons of trash enters the Anacostia River each year leaving a polluted, dirty and neglected river bordering our neighborhoods - today's vote is a big step in the right direction," Wells said in a statement.

Advocates for low-income residents and the plastics and paper industries have lobbied against the legislation as costly for poor people who would have to worry about a "bag tax" when they are trying to buy groceries. The legislation would provide low-income and elderly residents with reusable bags.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  May 14, 2009; 1:02 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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It's a sad day when you have to pay for a river that you don't even live by and that most of the trash that comes from it floats in from other areas that are not paying a tax. I do believe that something has to be done and I am all for cleaning up and becoming a greener city but at what costs? Many are barely covering their monthly bills and food let alone having to worry about being charged an additional five cents for having more than 4 items.

Posted by: Deeceejay1 | May 14, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm thankful the plastics industry is looking out for the poor.

Posted by: mattspah | May 14, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

So, elderly people who pick up their prescriptions at CVS have to pay 5 cents for the plastic bag they get, because CVS sells food?

That's just ridiculous.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | May 14, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

You can tax the District residents all you want on plastic bags, they travel on the river from jurisdictions not under the Council's authority. This is solely a grab for revenue. Parking tickets, traffic ticket cams, cell phone tax, 911 tax, breathing District air tax (just joking). This is the most PUNITIVE city I have ever lived in. Really, the MOST!!!

When you have MPD writing jay-walking tickets every day, you know where this cities priorities is.

Councilman Wells must go...

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | May 15, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Hi, can someone please explain how close this is to becoming a law based on this step?

Posted by: msegal | May 18, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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