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Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

D.C. bag tax nets $2 million

By Associated Press

Washington shoppers have spent approximately $2 million on paper and plastic bags in the past year, one nickel at a time.

The city's 5-cent tax on bags began last January, but consumers spent much less pocket change than predicted to pay for bags from grocery, liquor and convenience stores. City officials had guessed the fee would raise $3.5 million to clean up the city's Anacostia River before the end of 2010, but it has raised a little more than half that.

City officials said they were surprised so many consumers appear to have changed their habits, using reusable bags to carry their goods.

By Associated Press  | January 5, 2011; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Comments

This article fails to make clear that less revenue is a good thing! It means less bags were sold, which means less trash and a cleaner Anacostia River. It is much more effective to keep trash out of the river in the first place rather than pay to clean it up out of a dirty river later.

Posted by: BBolin | January 5, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

$2 million at 5¢ a bag works out to 100,000 bags. That number does indeed seem surprisingly low.

What I'd be interested in hearing is whether the cashiers and bag-boys at the grocery stores in DC have been forced to change their bagging habits as a result of the tax. That is, we've all observed the tendency to double-bag everything or to use a plastic bag for a single item (say, a dozen eggs) while putting other items into other bags. It seems to me that if you were going to be charged a nickel a bag, you'd quickly demand that they stop using unnecessary numbers of bags. I'm curious to know whether that's actually been the case in DC. (I live in Virginia and so have not faced the bag tax except when I've bought liquor in DC--but, knowing of the bag tax, I brought a reusable wine bag I got for free at Wegmans and so didn't pay the tax.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 5, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

This article fails to make clear that less revenue is a good thing! It means less bags were sold, which means less trash and a cleaner Anacostia River. It is much more effective to keep trash out of the river in the first place rather than pay to clean it up out of a dirty river later.

Posted by: BBolin | January 5, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

$2 million at 5¢ a bag works out to 100,000 bags. That number does indeed seem surprisingly low.

What I'd be interested in hearing is whether the cashiers and bag-boys at the grocery stores in DC have been forced to change their bagging habits as a result of the tax. That is, we've all observed the tendency to double-bag everything or to use a plastic bag for a single item (say, a dozen eggs) while putting other items into other bags. It seems to me that if you were going to be charged a nickel a bag, you'd quickly demand that they stop using unnecessary numbers of bags. I'm curious to know whether that's actually been the case in DC. (I live in Virginia and so have not faced the bag tax except when I've bought liquor in DC--but, knowing of the bag tax, I brought a reusable wine bag I got for free at Wegmans and so didn't pay the tax.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 5, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Ummmm...$2 million at $0.05 per bag is 40 million bags, not 100,000 bags.

Posted by: EdTheRed | January 5, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Now I would like to see an accounting of how the $2 million has been or will used to the benefit of the Anacostia.

Posted by: ZZinDC | January 5, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

This article fails to make clear that less revenue is a good thing! It means less bags were sold, which means less trash and a cleaner Anacostia River. It is much more effective to keep trash out of the river in the first place rather than pay to clean it up out of a dirty river later.

Posted by: BBolin | January 5, 2011 1:30 PM

Huh? This tax was not designed for that! It was designed for one thing:

$$$ (aka Money)....And the Council members are mad as he!! that DC Residents adapted too quickly......They was betting against them!

Posted by: 4thFloor | January 5, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Actually, that $2M figure is what was collected by the District, not what was charged at the point of sale. Since the business keeps 1 to 2 cents for each one, it's 50-60 million bags used, not 40 million. Just to be clear.

It's still a great reduction and success, and means less trash is in the rivers, saving us taxpayers even more money in the cleanup cost.

Posted by: rallycap | January 5, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

EdTheRed, $2 million at 5 cents per bag works out to 40 MILLION bags.

Posted by: crzytwnman | January 5, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@crztwnman Yeah, that's what I wrote (read to the bottom). I was just quoting the entire original post in my reply.

Although as rallycap points out, the $2M figure doesn't include the portion kept by businesses, so the real number is actually 50-60 million bags...

Posted by: EdTheRed | January 5, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

D'oh, you're right.......for some reason I did the math for 5% of $2 million. Oops. Guess that's why I'm not an accountant.

40 million bags is a hell of a lot of bags.

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 5, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

BTW, regardless of my mathematical ineptitude, I still stand by the question raised in my other paragraph regarding bagging behavior.

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 5, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

if only somebody in the District could generate some real revenue instead of this
typical bogus snow job that a 5 cent tax raises money for something..clean the River...that is a good one

Posted by: terpsez11 | January 5, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

This article fails to note that the Fenty administration raided the fund and funneled the money into the general funds. It also does not note that the funds were to be used to pay for street sweeping.

Stores are to credit individuals who bring in their own bags. This is part of the legislation, that is a 5 cent credit for every reusable bag a customer used. Unfortunately, Safeway does not give that credit. Only Giant and Harris Teeter.

I would like for someone to see if the revenue at the various stores has decreased over time. I know I for one no longer shop in the District. I refused to pay the bag tax. I shop in Maryland and my tax dollars go to Maryland too.

Posted by: duonoir | January 5, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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