D.C. Has Customers Pay For Grocery Bags, Law Cuts Down On Waste

A Washington, D.C. law mandates shoppers shell out a nickel for each grocery bag they use, and the regulation has caused people to stop taking as many unnecessary bags and reduced waste, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Impressed, Baltimore’s city council is considering charging a quarter a bag. The trend seems to be catching on nationwide. From the Sun story:

Washington is the first major U.S. city to go through with a fee on disposable bags for food. Seattle adopted a 20 cent fee, only to have voters repeal it in a referendum. San Francisco is the only major municipality to have banned plastic merchandise bags, although they’re also outlawed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Government fees or restrictions on disposable bags have had a tough time taking hold. Plastic bag manufacturers and anti-tax activists, among others, say that litter should be tackled through voluntary recycling. And bag fees, opponents contend, are ill-disguised revenue grabs that hurt the poor by making them pay more for groceries and food.

You could argue the laws work as regressive taxes that stick it harder to the poor, but it’s tough to dispute the environmental impact of the results.

Nickel fee on bags cutting use in Washington [Baltimore Sun]
(Thanks, William!)