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Fenty Administration Begins “Skip the Bag, Save the River” Education Campaign

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bag LogoMEDIA CONTACT: Alan Heymann (202) 741-2136

WASHINGTON, DC – To prepare businesses and the public for January’s 5-cent surcharge on disposable bags, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty today launched the District’s “Skip the Bag, Save the River” education campaign. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) will mail informational materials to businesses, place advertising on television, radio and transit, and distribute 122,000 reusable bags to low-income residents and seniors.

“Our message is simple: the bag fee is coming,” said Mayor Fenty. “I signed this law in July to cut down on the disposable bags that foul our waterways. But we want everyone to know that you can save the river, and 5 cents, if you bring your own reusable bag to the store instead.”

District businesses that sell food or alcohol must charge customers five cents for every disposable paper or plastic carryout bag beginning January 1, 2010, with the proceeds going to the new Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund. The law also requires that these bags be recyclable and carry a message encouraging recycling.

“Our research shows that plastic bags are a major component of the trash in the Anacostia River,” said DDOE Interim Director Maureen McGowan. “By taking disposable bags out of production and out of the waste stream, everyone who goes to the store can help keep the waters clean.”

The bag fee is the first of its kind in the nation, and will not apply to bags used for newspapers, produce, hardware, frozen foods, plants, bakery items or prescription drugs. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward Six) introduced the bag legislation, which the DC Council passed unanimously in June.

The Mayor also announced today that DDOE has partnered with CVS/pharmacy and Safeway to promote public awareness of the bag fee. CVS/pharmacy is contributing 12,000 additional “Skip the Bag” reusable bags and Green Bag Tag cards, and will distribute them along with DDOE at community events throughout the District. The Green Bag Tag gives CVS ExtraCare members $1 back every four times they reuse a bag. Safeway will distribute 10,000 bags beginning January 1st, 2010, when the bag fee is instituted.

“CVS/pharmacy is committed to improving the lives of the people and communities we serve, and that includes helping all our customers adopt more eco-friendly practices,” said Gordon Howard, Area Vice President for CVS/pharmacy. “We have a long history of rewarding our customers with incentives that are both convenient and beneficial to their well-being. The  District of Columbia's initiative to clean up the Anacostia River ties in with our ongoing green efforts, such as the Green Bag Tag program.”

“On behalf of Safeway, we are extremely pleased to partner with the District on this initiative,” said Safeway Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations Craig Muckle. “’Skip the Bag, Save the River’ is a great opportunity to go the extra mile in serving our clients and protecting the environment.”

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