City Desk

Bag Tax May Come to Prince George’s

A five-cent bag tax is going up for vote in Prince George's County for the second time, where Democrats say that the number of stray plastic bags caught in trees and blowing around has become untenable. And the bill may even pass, the Sun reports, thanks to the success of the District's bag tax in cleaning up the Anacostia River:

Before the bag tax in the district, the three trash traps were predominantly filled with disposable plastic bags, [Anacostia Waterkeeper's MikeBolinder said.

"The volume of bags in relation to other trash has dropped almost 100 percent, I rarely see a bag in the traps anymore," he said.

In a February 2011 study on litter in the District, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, a Maryland nonprofit environmental organization, found that 75 percent of residents surveyed said they have reduced their use of plastic bags since the fee was introduced.

In fiscal year 2011, the bag tax raised $1.8 million, according to the district Department of the Environment. It awarded nearly $1 million in grants to community organizations and $300,000 to private companies to clean up waterways in the district.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation found that only 12 percent of businesses reported that the bag fee had affected their business negatively, while 20 percent said that the bag fee has had a positive effect. A majority of businesses, 58 percent, said the bag fee has not affected their business at all.

At the beginning of the year, Montgomery County also implemented a bag tax, to some opposition. As the Sun notes, half of the Anacostia's watershed is in Prince George's County—which means that losing plastic bags there would reduce trash in the river.

For more on the D.C. bag tax, check out this graphic from contributor Josh Kramer.

Photo by Mr. T In D.C. via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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