How Well Has The DC Bag Tax Worked And What Does That Mean For Howard County?

I am continuing my information about Bag Taxes and what that might mean for Howard County in the future.

In 2015 the Washington Post evaluated the Washington DC Bag Tax in an article “Is D.C.’s 5-cent fee for plastic bags actually serving its purpose?”. Now look…if you do not want to read the entire thing…I get it…so I will give you some excerpts that stuck with me after reading the article:

The nickels from the bag fee have contributed about $10 million — since 2010 — to the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund.

Despite the growing praise for the program, the reality is as murky as the Anacostia, according to a recent city audit and The Washington Post’s review of the fund. Measurements for success are admittedly nonscientific and vary widely, and more of the fund money has been allocated for field trips for schoolchildren and employee salaries than to tangible cleanup projects on the river and its watershed.


The Post’s review showed that only about one-third of spending and allocations had gone toward trash traps to clean the river, rain barrels and rain gardens to catch runoff, green roofs, tree plantings, or stream restoration.

And to me…this is the big one from the article…because these stats are WIDELY used when talking about the bag tax:

After the fee started, within months officials released figures showing a drop from a purported 22.5 million bags used per month to 3.3 million — an 85 percent decrease. Those figures have made their way into countless news stories, academic reports and the U.S. congressional record. But there is little evidence that such a sudden, drastic reduction occurred.

One last piece from the article:

Revenue from the bag fee has increased each year since the fee’s inception.

Be sure to review the DC Bag Law – Annual Summary Reports:

That is just like Montgomery County…so that means that the number of bags taxed has gone up EVERY YEAR (revenue does not go up unless the number of bags sold goes up). So is it REALLY reducing the number of plastic bags used??? That has to be the question asked if it is about the environment…now if it is about a revenue generating fee / tax that helps the environment…then that is a different conversation.

Now look…want more information…read the full article:…do your own research…make your own opinion.

I look at this data..and the data from Montgomery County…and have made my opinion…which is I am against the tax…but if the delegation wants to propose a ban on plastics bag at point of sale in Howard County…they could very easily get me on board (and I feel much of the county would also be on board based on social media comments I have seen up to this point).

Worry not…this is not the last article on this topic…probably at least one more before the meeting on the 26th.

While one locally elected member publicly calls my information to the local community misleading and click bait…and apparently I am the “The most vocal opposition” to the bag tax according to a local blogger…I am going to continue this series because I am that passionate about it.

Let me go back to the comments about my information or titles of my articles being represented as “misleading or click bait”…I wrote my article AFTER the Baltimore Sun / Howard County Times article…that had the following title and the first sentence of the article was:

Proposal would allow Howard County to impose a 5 cent bag tax

A tax on plastic bags could be coming to Howard County.

So I am very confused how my title of “5 Cent Bag Tax Coming To Howard County?”…asking the same question as the Baltimore Sun / Howard County Times…is misleading or click bait…maybe this locally elected member thinks that article is equally misleading and click bait. Who knows…I know this is not the first time one of my articles / posts is called out…and I am 100% sure it will not be the last time one is called out because it does not match the opinions of a specific person or political party.

Whatever you feel about this issue…there is a meeting on the 26th where you can testify…I highly recommend you go and make your voice heard on this issue:

Scott E

My hope is that at some point in the future we can have different opinions on things with out it escalating to the level of silliness it does today. I am as guilty as just about anyone when over reacting to things posted online…and when I get called out for it…I generally deserve it…my hope is that by mentioning this that I also get better with my own online comments when they spin me up.

One comment

  1. I tend to reuse those plastic bags as trash can liners. Even if we got rid of grocery store plastic bags, we are still going to have a demand for plastic garbage can liners…

    So the question is whether the environment is actually going to be cleaner with this revenue — and if anything, those are the stats the governing ought to be releasing — their management of this new tax, and how much cleaner local bodies of water are, as opposed to reduction in plastic bag consumption.


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