D.C. bag fees proving effective

WASHINGTON — While D.C. hasn’t banned plastic bags, like California just did, charging for them is proving effective.

For the past four years, D.C. has encouraged people to forgo the usual stack of throwaway plastic bags and to instead recycle and reuse with a 5-cent tax on disposable bags.

The D.C. Department of the Environment says it’s working. An employee says it is making a difference in the amount of litter in the area’s rivers and streams.

The employee says 80 percent of residents are now using fewer disposable bags and 79 percent of businesses are providing fewer bags.

Groups that do stream cleanups in D.C. have reported a 60 percent reduction in the amount of plastic bags they are finding, according to the D.C. Department of the Environment.

Still, more than 50 million disposable bags go out in D.C. every year, and they bring in about $2 million, which is earmarked to clean up the Anacostia waterway.

D.C. Department of the Environment says D.C. has no plans to ban plastic bags altogether, like California.

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