Questions & Answers
The Cleanup Fund
Questions and Answers
What's the problem?
What's the cost of doing nothing?
What's the proposal?
Why a Fee?
What about low-income residents and seniors?
Before the fee takes effect, the city will conduct an intensive outreach campaign that includes not only public education, but also provides reusable carryout bags to residents for free. The city will work with service providers to distribute multiple reusable bags to seniors and low-income households.
How will the Anacostia River Cleanup & Protection Fund be used?
The Fund will be used to support:
Why not expand the fee to all bags, including those provided by Macy.s and other non-food retailers?
The DDOE report indicated most of the bag litter in the Anacostia appears to be related to consumable purchases. For example, when someone buys a soda and a bag of chips, it goes in a carryout bag; that person only has two hands: one for the soda, one for the chips. The bill, in part, attempts to address where that bag goes when the person walks from the store, consuming their purchase.
How will this have any real effect?
If plastic bags are the problem in the Anacostia, why a fee on paper too?
When it comes to environmental impact, the endless question of paper v. plastic is one that should be answered "neither." Both have significant environmental costs and putting a fee on plastic carryout bags alone would likely increase the use of paper bags, negating any environmental benefit and adding considerable costs to our local businesses (as paper bags cost up to five times as much as plastic bags). Placing a fee on both moves everyone toward reusable bags, which is a better solution for the Anacostia River, the environment, and our local businesses.
How are other jurisdictions addressing this problem?
What about the people who reuse their disposable plastic bags? Won.t they be buying more plastic under this law?
While it may be true that people will buy more plastic garbage bags than before, those bags are typically disposed of properly, while the smaller carryout bags often are not. A reduction in the number of carryout bags distributed by retail establishments will reduce the number of bags that litter the Anacostia River and cost DC taxpayers money to clean up.
Aren't reusable bags made of plastic too? Are they really more environmentally friendly?
A 2003 study found that reusable bags have the least environmental impact, largely due to the small number of bags consumed per year. The study evaluated manufacture, transportation, use and disposal of carryout bags and found that the greatest environmental benefits are achieved when replacing disposable bags with reusable bags.
Aren't plastic bottles and cans the largest source of litter? Or food wrappers?
Plastic bags dominate the tributary streams, making up 47 percent of all trash; in the Anacostia River's main stem, plastic bags make up 21 percent of all trash. Bottles & cans comprise 14 percent in the tributaries, and 25 percent in the main stem. Food wrappers make up 24 percent in the tributary streams and 26 percent in the main stem. These are significant numbers, but overall plastic bags are the most prevalent and cause considerable damage, not just as litter the River, but they also clog stormwater drains and damage equipment.
Will the people who litter their carryout bags even care about this fee?
The fee is small, but small fees elsewhere have provided enough of an incentive for consumers to rethink whether they need a bag at all.
Why not institute voluntary efforts and push recycling?
DC, like many cities, has had recycling programs for years. It makes a small impact, but the city has to pay to have these items recycled and we still have a polluted and dirty river.
Why should I pay for something I've always received for free?
The carryout bags aren't really free. They cost the retailer and they pass those costs on the customer. Too often, a "free" bag becomes someone else's litter. The uses our tax dollars to pay for litter clean up and removal. DC WASA has to remove the bags and other debris out of the Anacostia River, and those costs are passed on to rate payers.
Why is this a priority now?
Taking charge of the stewardship of the Anacostia River will result in a neighborhood asset for all our residents. A healthy river is also a draw for economic development, providing increased opportunities for all communities surrounding the river. Finally, we must begin stewardship now, or we pass the responsibility and the burden to our children and grandchildren.