Department of Energy & Environment

DC Agency Top Menu

-A +A
Bookmark and Share

The Motivation Behind the Bag Law

The District Bag Law resulted from a trash study done on the Anacostia River. The study found that disposable plastic bags were one of the largest sources of litter in the Anacostia River. The District Bag Law aims at reducing pollution in District waterways, while raising funds to clean and protect them.

Litter, such as plastic bags, travel directly to our waterways.

Additionally, DOEE uses a portion of the funds to support a reusable bag program, and partnered with CVS/Pharmacy in 2010 to distribute 112,000 reusable shopping bags to District residents, especially seniors and low-income communities. DOEE has distributed over 40,000 bags since the law took effect and continues to distribute reusable bags at events throughout the District.


Recent public opinion research conducted by DOEE, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and OpinionWorks shows that the bag fee has drastically changed behavior of citizens in their bag usage and found overwhelming positive support for this law. 

The survey found:

  • 75% of District residents polled indicated that they have reduced their bag use since the fee was introduced in January 2010.
  • A majority of businesses said their store’s bag consumption dropped at least 50% as a result of the fee.