Jan 1

DC Shoppers Now Pay $0.05 Per Plastic Grocery Bag


I just read this article from Breitbart which describes the new $0.05 levy on Washington DC shoppers (please note this does not apply to Northern VA or MD shoppers) who purchase plastic bags:

Residents of the US capital may have to dig a little deeper into their pockets when they go grocery shopping once the city slaps a five-cent levy on each plastic bag issued at the checkout line.

The measure, which takes effect on January 1, 2010 and is the first such initiative in the United States, seeks to make consumers bear the brunt of clean up costs for the bags which currently are dispensed for free with a customer’s purchases.

Under the new law, city businesses that sell food or alcohol must charge customers five cents for every disposable paper or plastic carryout bag. The law also requires that these bags be recyclable and carry a message encouraging recycling.”

To prepare for the change, the city government has distributed some 122,000 reusable shopping bags to elderly and low-income residents who complain that their limited spending power will be further hampered by the levy.

This new levy only applies to DC, not the surrounding metropolitan area. Apparently a few retailers in the city of DC will be giving out free reusable totes for this first week of the new levy (starting today, January 1, 2010) such as Trader Joes (in select Washington, DC stores), Giant Food (in select Washington, DC stores), Harris Teeter (for VIC card members in select Washington, DC stores) and CVS (DDOE bags in select Washington, DC stores). Below is an excerpt from this Greater Greater Washington Blog article:

Councilmember Tommy Wells released a list of some of the stores offering promotions tied to the bill. Harris Teeter will give free bags to customers who use their VIC cards and spend more than $20 in January. CVS is distributing some of DDOE’s reusable bags at various locations and will also give shoppers a $1 coupon for every four times they bring reusable bags. Safeway is distributing bags through local nonprofits. And Target will offer the 5-cent credit for bags customers bring in.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly January 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I’m for the concept of less waste but I think this levy is just that a “tax” for all! I don’t care that they are giving 122,000 FREE bags to the “poor”. Who paid for them? Tax payers! Who will really use them?

I love the concept of reusing bags and I’m even thinking of creating a pattern to create my own. 😉 I have a lot of fabric that I can use to create some. Of course, need to find the time to do it. lol

On the subject of taxes, I wish people would support the ‘Fair Tax’ more, it makes so much sense. In a nut shell, it is a decent Federal sales tax (predicted to be 23%) that would be paid by everyone (rich and poor), no more income taxes period! The lower income gets a yearly rebate for food/clothing/shelter taxes. In that system, everyone would KEEP more in their pocket and DECIDE what they want to buy and what taxes they want to spend. But, that would mean Congress wouldn’t have so much control over us.

Ok, I’m off my soap box right now.

Keep Saving! – Holly


frugalfriends January 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thanks Holly! You are so good with sewing and crafts, I would love to see a pattern for a DIY reusable tote if you ever have time to make one!


Leah January 2, 2010 at 10:30 am

I think this policy is GREAT and can’t believe the whinging that’s going on over it. Just wanted to report that my local Giant (O Street Market) is bagging your entire purchase into free reusable bags through January 7th. I’ve already added 8 to my collection!


frugalfriends January 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Thanks for sharing Leah!
Back when Aldi had its grand opening for its newest NOVA store they were also giving out free reusable totes, so I have a few Aldi ones in my collection! I keep them in the car so when I’m out and about and need to stop for groceries I have them with me. It’s nice to have on hand.


Amy January 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I think incentives to get more people into wasting less is a wonderful idea. But let’s not forget the cost of plastic bags is already built into grocery store prices. So now to pay a tax or usage on top of that seems crazy. Stores should stick with the incentive of giving a discount for bringing reusable bags.


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