District businesses selling food or alcohol are required to charge $.05 for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag. Find out about DC's Bag Law.
Skip the Bag, Save the River
Suspect a business to be in violation of the Bag Law?
The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act ('Bag Law') requires all District businesses that sell food or alcohol to charge five cents for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag — whether or not food or alcohol products are purchased in the store.
The business retains one cent (or two cents if it offers a rebate when customers bring their own bag), and the remaining three or four cents go to The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund. The law also requires that reusable paper and plastic bags meet specific material and labeling requirements [PDF].
The District’s Bag Law is the first of its kind in the U.S. Since the law took effect on January 1, 2010, District businesses have seen a drastic reduction in bag usage, and environmental clean-up groups witnessed fewer bags polluting DC waterways.
The ultimate goal of the law is to change consumer behavior by encouraging District residents to use reusable bags, thereby reducing bag pollution in waterways. Revenue is deposited into the The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund, a special purpose fund managed by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). The fund is used to implement watershed education programs, stream restoration, trash retention projects and to purchase and distribute reusable bags.
- DC Resident and Business Bag Use Surveys
- Presentation: Understanding and Tracking Disposable Bag Consumption in the District of Columbia [PDF]
- 2012/2013 Bag Law Study Findings Overview [PDF]
- Implementation of The District’s Bag Law - Projects Funded, Outreach, and Enforcement
- Report on 2010 Study of Disposable Bag Use and Littering [PDF]
- DC Bag Law [PDF]
- Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 [PDF]
- The Motivation Behind the Bag Law
- Carryout Bags Law & Regulations (DC Regs)
About DDOE's Implementing Regulations:
On August 13, 2010, the final regulations on retail establishment carryout bags (Chapter 10 of Title 21 of the DC Municipal Regulations) were published in the D.C. Register, 57 DCR 7208. These regulations clarify how DDOE implements and enforces the requirements of the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009.
Bag Law Resources
- Summary of the District's carryout bag requirements [PDF]
- DDOE’s letters to District businesses affected by these new regulations [PDF]
- Minimum Bag Labeling Requirement Details [PDF]
- Bag Law - FAQs
Resources for Businesses
Businesses collecting the bag fee are to report their net bag fee collections on their sales and use tax returns - FR-800M series forms - to the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. Businesses are not required to report the total number of bags subject to the fee or the $.01 and $.02 allowances. Retailers should retain records of the number of bags and the amount of fees collected to support their reports of net disposable bag fee collections for auditing purposes.
- Instructions for remitting monthly bag fees with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue [PDF]
- Final Regulations on Retail Establishment Carryout Bags [PDF]
- Print materials for businesses [PDF]
Resources for Residents
- Recycling Resources
- Recycling FAQs
- Support the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund
Get a Save the River Commemorative License Plate
- Plastic Bags: To Ban or Not to Ban? - VOA (December 16, 2014)
- In praise of…charging for plastic bags - The Guardian (August 21, 2013)
- How D.C. Beat the Plastic Bag Lobby – One Earth (November 11, 2010)
- District Awards Seven Community Organizations $1 Million in Revenue from Bag Charges to Restore Local Waterways – District of Columbia Press Release (July 13, 2011)
- 38 Percent of Businesses Not Complying with D.C. 5-cent Bag Fee – TBD (May 25, 2011)
Trapping Trash Before It Gets To The Anacostia – WAMU (January 30, 2012)
Money from D.C.'s Bag Law is being put to good use; the District has deployed several giant skimmers to help collect trash in the area's waterways.
- Two Years Without Plastic Bags – Washington City Paper (January 31, 2012)
- Video of Mayor's press conference (Windows Media Player required)
Partners Include: CVS/pharmacy, Giant, Harris Teeter, Safeway