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Chesapeake Bay News


Washington, D.C., passes bill to reduce plastic bag trash in Anacostia River

The District of Columbia Council has unanimously approved a bill that will help clean up the Anacostia River by placing a fee on disposable bags.

The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 will charge a 5-cent fee on disposable paper and plastic carryout bags at grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, food vendors and other shops in the city. Most of the money collected will go towards a newly created Anacostia River Cleanup Fund, which will target environmental cleanup, reclamation and restoration efforts on the Anacostia River.

“This landmark law brings the District of Columbia to the forefront of addressing pollution caused by disposable bags and takes much-needed action to clean the Anacostia River,” said D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, sponsor of the bill and chair of the Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee.

According to a recent report by the D.C. Department of the Environment, plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and Styrofoam make up 85 percent of the trash in the Anacostia River, a tributary of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. In the river’s tributaries, such as Watts Branch, nearly 50 percent of the trash is plastic bags.

The report stated that placing a small fee on disposable bags could eliminate up to 21 percent of the trash in the Anacostia and 47 percent of the trash in its tributaries.

The legislation also creates a new Anacostia River vehicle license plate and an income tax donation option. Proceeds from both will go to the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund.

For more information about the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 and the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund, visit trashfreeanacostia.com.

What You Can Do: Reduce the Amount of Plastic Bags You Use and Reduce Plastic Trash in the Anacostia River, the Chesapeake Bay and Your Local Waterways

  • Bring your own reusable shopping bags when you go to the grocery store. You don't have to go out and buy special reusable bags -- use backpacks, beach bags or other bags you already have around the house.
  • Cut down on the number of bags you use by asking your grocery store bagger not to "double bag" your groceries.
  • When you're outdoors, make sure all of your trash ends up in the proper trash or recycling bin. Can't find one? Hold on to your trash until you can properly dispose of it.

Learn about more ways you can help the Bay.


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