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Is D.C.’s 5-cent fee for plastic bags actually serving its purpose? – The Washington Post

dcogcadmin | May 12, 2015

The District of Columbia’s 5-cent bag fee — heralded as one of the nation’s most successful “bag laws” — has become a familiar and accepted routine at cash registers across the city. Shoppers who need a paper or plastic bag shell out just a nickel, a price so nominal that some don’t even notice the charge.

Six years ago, lawmakers sold the new legislation as a way to clean the Anacostia River, a waterway notorious for its toxic history and cringe-worthy pollutants, from soda bottles and cigarette butts to rusty tires and raw sewage. A catchy slogan — “Skip the Bag, Save the River” — promoted the river-cleaning cause.

The nickels from the bag fee have contributed about $10 million — since 2010 — to the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund.

“I think it’s been one of the most successful legislative interventions into a known trash problem in decades,” said Tommy Wells, the former D.C. Council member who crafted the law in 2009 and now heads the District Department of the Environment. “I think it’s been extraordinarily successful.”

Despite the growing praise for the program, the reality is as murky as the Anacostia, [Read More]