Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.



District’s 5-Cent Bag Fee Takes Effect January 1

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MEDIA CONTACT: Alan Heymann (202) 741-2136

WASHINGTON, DC – Beginning Friday, January 1, businesses in the District of Columbia that sell food or alcohol must charge customers five cents for every disposable paper or plastic carryout bag distributed at the register. The proceeds of the fee will go to the new Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund, to be administered by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).

The bag fee is the first of its kind in the nation, and will not apply to in-store bags used for newspapers, produce, hardware, frozen foods, plants, bakery items or prescription drugs. DDOE’s Anacostia River Trash Reduction Plan indicates that disposable bags are one of the top sources of pollution in the river and its tributaries. To respond to this growing problem, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009, which includes the bag fee, in June. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed it in July.

DDOE has been working with local businesses to prepare for the change, and has mailed information and cash register decals to every food and beverage licensee in the District.  Customers can avoid paying the five-cent fee (and receive an additional credit at many stores) by bringing their own reusable bags from home.

Free reusable bag distribution

  • DDOE and CVS/pharmacy have handed out 32,000 reusable bags in November and December, with more to come in January. 
  • Safeway is donating 10,000 bags to community nonprofits. 
  • Giant Food will give away 250,000 reusable bags in stores beginning Friday. 
  • Harris Teeter customers can receive a free reusable bag with every $20 purchase.

For more information about the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009 and the bag fee, please visit