Washington, DC, collected $149,432.27 in January from its tax on plastic and paper bags, according to the district's Office of Tax and Revenue. January was the first month of the 5-cent-per-bag tax on plastic and paper carryout bags. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, who supported the measure, said businesses are handing out 50-80 percent fewer bags as a result of the tax.
"While it's difficult to project the annual results based on just the first month's experience, the report shows that residents are making great strides in reducing disposable bag use," Wells said in a news release on his Web site. He said the numbers suggest that residents are beating projections in how quickly they start to use fewer dispoable bags. The District's Chief Financial Officer estimated last year that residents use about 270 million disposable bags per year, or 22.5 million bags per month.
The new report suggests that residents used a little less than 3 million disposable bags in January. That could also mean the CFO's estimate was unrealistically high, or that January was a slow month for retail shopping in Washington. But no matter how you compare the numbers, it's evident that the tax is having an impact.
"I'm thrilled with these initial results," Wells said. "Not only are we reducing the number of disposable bags entering our environment, but we also have new resources flowing to help with the cleanup and restoration of the Anacostia River."