D.C. Bag Tax Ready, But Government Isn't

DC bag tax begins Friday; reusable bags for nonprofits still on order

By Tom Sherwood
|  Tuesday, Dec 29, 2009  |  Updated 7:45 PM EDT
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It's All in the Bag

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It's All in the Bag

Shopping at the grocery store might cost you more in the District. Shoppers will be charged for each non-recyclable bag used to shop beginning January first.
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Paper or plastic? It doesn't matter. If you use a non-recyclable bag at your grocery beginning Friday, those bags are going to cost you five cents each. 

On Friday, Giant Foods will be handing out free recycling bags for a full week -- about 250,000 bags that normally cost 99 cents each. Spokesman Jamie Miller said it's an effort by Giant to educate customers about the new law.
 
"We're going to pack groceries in our reusuable bags (for free) whether a customer needs one ... or six," Miller told NBC4 on Tuesday at the Columbia Heights store.
 
But while Giant and other big companies like CVS and Safeway are geared up for the program, the District government is slow out of the starting gate.  While the city has printed and distributed about 20,000 bags to senior citizens and some nonprofit groups, it has another 80,000 reusable bags on order that won't be here for weeks.
 
Alan Heymann, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment, said the bags were delayed because of an administrative problem stemming from the effectiveness of the law and having funds to order the bags.
 
"We recognize the initial hurdle" low income people face on Friday, Heymann said. "There will be a lot more bags later."
 
Food co-ops in southeast Washington complained to News4 that their member churches had not heard anything from city officials.
George Franklin, who coordinates several programs at churches for the Ward 8 Collaborative, asked, "How can you pass a bag bill ... and you don't have the product?"

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