Some more facts about the D.C. bag law

The District of Columbia’s shopping bag law begins today, and I’ve already been out to pick up a few necessities, cloth bags in tow.

Since I’ve heard some misinformation, I thought I would share some details about the new law.

  • The financial impact statement for the bill compares Washington, D.C. to Seattle, Washington, which went though a similar process. From their stats, D.C. uses about 360 million plastic bags a year — in a jurisdiction of about 600,000 people — with about three-quarters being used in the stores affected by this law. The statement projects that by fiscal year 2013, there should be a 80% reduction in disposable bag use.
  • This law effects the approximately 4,000 D.C. food retail establishments, which includes groceries, liquor and drug stores.
  • Disposable paper bags used in restaurants are exempt from the legislation.
  • There is, alas, only one enforcement officer budgeted for the law. The first offense fine is probably $100.
  • It was passed by the D.C. Council unanimously.
  • If you carry your own bag, not only will you not be charged the fee, but D.C. gives retailers an incentive to offer you a nickle rebate.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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