Friday, June 03, 2011
Starting January 1, 2012 all County retailers will charge customers five cents for each paper or plastic carryout bag used to take out purchases at the point of sale, or pickup or delivery. The nominal nickel charge has been found in neighboring jurisdiction Washington DC, to be the right price-point to change the prevailing practice of packaging any purchase. Washington DC's Bag Law (The Anacostia River Protection Act) has been in place for one year, and has documented results such as:
• Reductions in disposable bag use by 60–70 percent (as reported by businesses)
• Reductions in the number of plastic bags being pulled from local streams and waterways by 65 percent (reported by environmental groups)
• Reductions in the use of paper and plastic single-use bags from 22.5 million to 3.2 million after the law took effect (reported by the District’s Chief Financial Officer)
• Revenue generated by the fee is going back into the community for trash reduction and clean-up efforts
Plastic bags often wind up as litter in local storm drains, streams and eventually our rivers. Studies of trash conducted in the Anacostia watershed have shown that plastic bags are one of the top four components of the litter found in streams.
Revenues from the bag charge will be dedicated to the Water Quality Protection Charge and be used for litter control programs, watershed protection activities, and for reusable bag distribution to low-income residents. The County spent $3 million in litter reduction and control programs in 2009. The bag charge offers retail consumers a choice of bringing their own bag and avoiding the 5-cent fee, and in doing so, shifts the burden from all County tax payers to retail consumers who chose to take a carryout bag for their purchases. Bill 8-11 was passed in a County Council session on May 3rd, 2011 and signed into Law on May 11, 2011.