Disposable Bag Act

Summary: The Disposable Bag Act curtails an environmental hazard by placing a five cent fee on disposable bags.

Based on District of Columbia Section 8-102


This Act shall be called the “Disposable Bag Act.”


This law is enacted to curtail litter and an environmental hazard to wildlife by discouraging single-use bags.


After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) Definitions – In this Act:

1. “Disposable 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. The term “disposable bag” shall not include:

(a) Bags used by consumers inside stores to:

(i) Package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items;

(ii) Contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether prepackaged or not;

(iii) Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness may be a problem; and

(iv) Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods;

(b) Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs;

(c) 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;

(d) Paper bags that restaurants, licensed under [citation], provide to customers to take food away from the retail establishment; or

(e) Reusable bags.

2. “Retail establishment” means any licensee under [citation(s)].

3. “Reusable bag” means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of cloth, fiber, other machine washable fabric, or durable plastic that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick.

(B) Requirements for disposable bags made available to customers by retail establishments

1. Disposable bags made of plastic that cannot be recycled shall not be sold or distributed, retail or wholesale, in [the jurisdiction].

2. Disposable bags made of paper shall:

(a) Be 100% recyclable;

(b) Contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content; and

(c) Display the phrase “Please Recycle This Bag”, or a substantially similar phrase, in a highly visible manner on the bag exterior.

3. Disposable bags made of plastic shall:

(a) Be 100% recyclable;

(b) Be made of high-density polyethylene film marked with the SPI resin identification code 2 or low-density polyethylene film marked with the SPI resin identification code 4; and

(c) Display the phrase “Please Recycle This Bag”, or a substantially similar phrase, in a highly visible manner on the bag exterior.

(C) Establishment of fee

1. A consumer making a purchase from a retail establishment shall pay at the time of purchase a fee of $.05 for each disposable bag.

2. A retail establishment shall not advertise or hold out or state to the public or to a customer directly or indirectly that the reimbursement of the fee or any part thereof to be collected by the retail establishment will be assumed or absorbed by the retail establishment or otherwise refunded to the customer.

3. All retail establishments shall indicate on the consumer transaction receipt the number of disposable bags provided and the total amount of fee charged.

4. Each retail establishment shall retain $.01 of each $.05 fee collected; provided, that an establishment that chooses to offer a bag credit program to its customers, as set forth in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, shall retain an additional $.01 from each fee collected, for a total of $.02 for each $.05 fee collected.

5. A retail establishment shall retain an additional $.01 of each $.05 fee for a program which:

(a) Credits the consumer no less than $.05 for each bag provided by the consumer for packaging their purchases, regardless of whether that bag is paper, plastic, or reusable;

(b) Is prominently advertised at each checkout register; and

(c) Reflects the total credit amount on the consumer transaction receipt.

6. The fees retained by the retail establishment under this paragraph shall not be classified as revenue and shall be tax-exempt for the purposes of [citation].

7. The fees retained by the retail establishment shall be excluded from the definition of retail sale under [citation] and from the definition of gross receipts under [citation].

(D) Rules; enforcement and penalties for violation

1. The [Department of Environment] shall issue rules to implement the provisions of this subchapter within 90 days after enactment.

2. The [Department of Revenue] shall develop rules for frequency and method for reporting and payment of the fees provided in this section. If payment of any amounts due under this section is not received on or before the due date, a penalty shall be added as provided by rule.

3. Violation of this subchapter shall be a [class 4 misdemeanor]. No more than one penalty shall be imposed upon a retail establishment within a 7-day period.


This law shall become effective on July 1, 20XX.