DC Bag Fee:
Since 2010, all businesses in the District that sell food or alcohol must charge 5 cents for every paper or plastic bag. You can avoid the fee and reduce the amount of plastic you use by bringing your own bag. Revenue from the bag fee funds the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund to install trash traps in the Anacostia and its tributaries. Over the past 10 years, 70,000 lbs of trash have been removed, and more than 29,000 linear feet of streams have been restored.
DC Plastic Straw Ban:
Effective January 1, 2019, any business or organization that serves food cannot provide single-use plastic straws or stirrers to their customers. Washington DC is part of Our Last Straw, a coalition of businesses and organizations in the DC area, committed to eliminating single-use plastic straws. In April 2018, Alice Ferguson Foundation and Anacostia Watershed Society collected over 3,500 straws at their river cleanups.
Foam Free DC:
Since January 1, 2016, all businesses and organizations are banned from serving food in expanded polystyrene (EPS) containers. This includes plates, cups, clamshells, foam peanuts, and other foam packaging items.
Montgomery County has a five-cent fee for all retail establishments for giving out paper or plastic bags. The revenue goes to the Water Quality Protection Charge fund. Expanded polystyrene foam food packaging was banned from restaurants and retail stores in 2015.
Beginning July 1, 2020, expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service products will be banned. Legislation has been introduced to ban all plastic shopping bags and charge a fee for paper in the entire state. It would charge customers 10 cents for “durable bags” like paper bags at checkout.
A bill has been proposed that would implement a five-cent fee on plastic bags. Visit Litter Free Virginia to stay up to date on plastic-related legislation in Virginia.
The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 has been introduced in both the House and Senate. This bill would reduce single-use plastic production and use, improve producer responsibility in design, recycling, and disposal of their consumer products, and prevent pollution from consumer products from entering waterways.