DC Plastic Bag Ban Bill

DC Plastic Bag Ban Bill




Councilmember Tommy Wells, Vincent C. Gray, Mary M. Cheh, Kwame R. Brown, Marion  Barry, Yvette Alexander, Harry Thomas, Jr., Michael A. Brown, David A. Catania, Jack  Evans, Phil Mendelson, and Muriel Bowser introduced the following bill, which was referred to the Committee on __________________.

To protect the aquatic and environmental assets of the District of Columbia; to ban the use of disposable non-recyclable plastic carryout bags; to establish a fee on all other disposable carryout bags provided by grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, restaurants, and food vendors; to give the Mayor the authority to implement rules and procedures to collect the fee; to establish a non-lapsing recurring Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the “Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009".

Sec. 2. Findings.
The Council of District of Columbia finds that:
(1) The widespread provision of carryout bags to consumers creates significant problems relating to their disposal and effect on the environment.
(2) Plastic carryout bags are the largest single source of trash in the Anacostia River tributaries and of the three largest sources in the entire river.
(3) Plastic carryout bags clog sewer systems, and pose a risk to marine animals that ingest  them or become entangled in them along the River.
(4) The Anacostia River soon will be subject to an Environmental Protection Agency mandated Total Maximum Daily Load (TDML), which sets the level of allowable pollution;  exceeding this figure will result in severe fines for the District.
(5) There exists a need to discourage the use of single-use, disposable plastic and paper bags and encourage the use of reusable bags by consumers and retailers in order to minimize the impact of disposable bags on the Anacostia River, on the health and environment of the District and its residents, and on the District’s fiscal welfare.
(6) Other jurisdictions worldwide have seen a dramatic decrease in disposable bag use when small fees have been implemented that encourage consumers to choose reusable shopping bags.

Sec. 3. Definitions.
(a) “Disposable carryout bag” means a bag of any material, commonly plastic or kraft  paper, which is provided to a consumer at the point of sale to carry purchases. “Disposable carryout bag” does not include: bags used by consumers inside stores to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items, such as nails and bolts; bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not, flowers or potted plants, or other items where dampness may be a problem; bags used to protect prepared foods or bakery goods; bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs; or newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags.

(b) "Recyclable paper carryout bag" means a paper bag that meets all of the following requirements: (1) contains no old growth fiber, (2) is 100% recyclable overall and contains a  minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content, and (3) displays the word "Recyclable" in a highly visible manner on the outside.
(c) “Recyclable plastic carryout bag” means a plastic bag that (1) is made of high-density polyethylene film (HDPE) marked with the SPI resin identification code 2 or low-density polyethylene film (LDPE) marked with the SPI resin identification code 4, and (2) displays the words “Please Recycle This Bag,” or substantially similar language, in a highly visible manner on the outside.
(d) “Retail Establishment” means any licensee under a Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Basic Business License category Public Health: Food Establishment Retail (D.C. Official Code Sec. § 47-2851.03(10)(J)) license or under an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration off-premises retailer’s license, class A or B.
(e) "Reusable carryout bag" means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is either (1) made of cloth, fiber or other machine washable fabric, and/or (2) made of durable plastic that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick.

Sec. 4. Ban use of disposable non-recyclable plastic carryout bags.

(a) Disposable non-recyclable plastic bags shall not be sold or distributed, retail or wholesale, in the District of Columbia.

(b) All Retail Establishments shall provide only the following as carryout bags to consumers:
(1) recyclable paper carryout bags;
(2) recyclable plastic carryout bags; and
(3) reusable bags
(c) Nothing in this section shall preclude stores from making the allowable carryout bags in section 4 (b)(3) available through sale to consumers.
(d) Violation of requirements set forth in section 4 shall subject the establishment to the penalties set forth in section 6.

Sec. 5. Establishment of fee.

(a) A fee of $.05 per recyclable paper and plastic carryout bag is hereby established for consumers making purchases from Retail Establishments.
(1) Fees must be paid by the consumer at the time of purchase.
(2) Retail Establishments may not pay the fee on behalf of consumers.
(3) All Retail Establishments shall indicate on the consumer transaction receipt the number of disposable carryout bags provided and the total amount of fee charged.
(4) Fees shall be collected by the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) and allocated as defined in subsection 5(b).
9(b) The $.05 fee per recyclable paper and plastic carryout bag shall be distributed as  follows:
(1) To the Retail Establishment:
(A) From each $.05 fee collected, $.01 will remain with the establishment; however, an establishment that chooses to offer a carryout bag credit program to  its customers, as outlined in subsection 5(b)(1)(B), will retain an additional $.01  from each fee collected, for a total of $.02 per fee collected.
(B) For an establishment to retain an additional $.01 from each fee collected, its carryout bag credit program must:
(i) credit the consumer a minimum of $.05 for each carryout bag provided by the consumer for packaging their purchases, regardless of whether that bag is paper, plastic, or reusable;
(ii) be prominently advertised at each checkout register; and
(iii) reflect the total credit amount on the consumer transaction receipt.
(C) The fees retained by the establishment pursuant to this section shall  not be classified as revenue and shall be tax exempt.
(2) The remaining amount from each fee collected shall be deposited in the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund as described in section 7.
(c) OTR shall develop rules for frequency and method for reporting and transmitting the fees, as described in subsection 5(a), to the District.

Sec. 6. Enforcement and Penalties for Violation.

(a) The Mayor shall promulgate rules necessary to enforce the requirements of this act within 90 days of the effective date of this Act.
(b) If the Mayor determines that a violation has occurred
(1) First violation. A written warning notice shall be issued to the Retail Establishment that a violation has occurred. No fine shall be issued for the first violation.
(2) Subsequent violations. If after the warning notice the Retail Establishment continues to violate the requirements of this Act, the Mayor shall issue a fine to the Retail Establishment. The fines may not exceed:
(A) $100 for the first violation in a calendar year;
(B) $200 for the second violation in the same calendar year; or
(C) $500 for each additional violation in the same calendar year.
(3) No more than one fine shall be issued to a Retail Establishment within a 7-day period.
(c) If payment of any amounts due under this section is not received by or before the due date, a penalty shall be added.
(d) Revenues collected through citations for violation of this act shall only be used for enforcement costs including hiring inspectors and other staff, and administrative costs associated with enforcement of this act.

Sec. 7. Establishment of the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund
(a) There is established as a non-lapsing recurring fund, titled the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund (“Fund”), where the fees generated by the purchase of disposable paper and plastic carryout bags from Retail Establishments shall be deposited. The Fund shall be used solely for the purposes set forth in subsection (b) and be administered by the Office of the Director of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).
(b) The Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of cleaning and protecting the Anacostia River. Funds may be used for projects including, but not limited to:
(1) A public education campaign to educate residents, businesses, and tourists about the impact of trash on the District’s environmental health;
(2) Providing reusable carryout bags to District residents, with priority to assisting seniors and low-income residents;

(3) Creating youth-oriented water resource and water pollution educational campaigns for students at the District of Columbia public and charter schools;
(4) Monitoring and recording pollution indices for the Anacostia River;
(5) Preserving or enhancing water quality and fishery or wildlife habitat in the Anacostia River;
(6) Promoting conservation programs for the Anacostia River, including programs for wildlife and endangered species;
(7) Purchasing and installing equipment designed to minimize trash pollution reaching the Anacostia watershed, including trash traps, recycling containers, and covered trash receptacles;
(8) Restoring and enhancing wetlands and green infrastructure to protect the health of the Anacostia River and restore the aquatic and land resources of its watershed;
(9) Funding community cleanup events and other activities that reduce trash, such as increased litter collection;
(10) Funding a Circuit Rider Program with neighboring jurisdictions to focus river and tributary clean up efforts upstream;
(11) Supporting vocational and job training experiences in environmental and sustainable professions that enhance the health of the Anacostia River;
(12) Maintaining a public web site that educates District residents on the progress of Anacostia clean up efforts; and
(13) Paying for the administration of this program.
(c) The Fund shall not be used to supplant funds dedicated as part of an approved annual budget for Anacostia River cleaning activities by DDOE.
(d)(1) All funds deposited into the Fund, and any interest earned on those funds, shall not revert to the unrestricted fund balance of the General Fund of the District of Columbia at the end of the fiscal year, or at any other time, but shall be continually available for the uses and purposes set forth in subsection (b) of this section without regard to fiscal year limitation, subject to authorization from Congress.
(2) Any funds that are transferred through intra-District transfers and are not expended in a fiscal year shall revert to the Fund.

Sec. 8. Applicability.
(a) The requirements of this act shall become operative 6 months from the effective date.
(b) Beginning at least 90 days before the effective date of the fee, DDOE shall:
(1) Conduct an intensive public information campaign, aimed at educating the public on the importance of reducing the number of disposable bags entering the waste stream and the impact of disposable bags on the rivers, tributaries, and environmental  health of the District;
(2) Conduct an outreach campaign that includes:
(A) A public-private partnership to provide reusable carryout bags to District residents;
(B) Working with service providers that assist seniors and low-income residents to distribute information and multiple reusable bags to low-income households.

Sec. 9. Effective Date.
This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat.813; D.C. Official Code Sec. § 1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

Sec. 10. Fiscal impact statement.
The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code Sec. § 1-206.02(c))(3)).

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