Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ December 2011

New MoCo 5¢ Carryout Bag Law Effective 1 January

By Jacquie Bokow and Linda Perlman

Under the new Carryout Bag Law, all retail establishments in the county that sell goods and provide their customers with bags (either paper or plastic) to carry purchases will be required to charge 5¢ per bag beginning 1 January 2012.  “Retail establishments” include all stores, permanent booths, service stations, grocery stores, department stores, specialty goods sellers, convenience stores, restaurants, and others.

The 5¢ charge also applies to purchases made over the phone or Internet or via fax, or at a self-checkout counter, if you are using store-provided carryout bags.  Retailers get to keep 1¢ of each 5¢ for the bags they sell a customer and may not provide a store credit to cover the bag tax amount.  Cash credit for bags that customers voluntarily bring to carry their purchases is not required under the law, so if you’ve been getting 5¢ back for taking your own bags to the grocery store, that may stop.  A service rep. at Giant, however, claims the store will continue to credit 5¢ per bag supplied by the consumer.

The following bags are exempt under the law:

A retail establishment must record on the customer’s transaction receipt the number of carryout bags that were provided to the customer and the total charge levied.

The legislation, similar to Washington, D.C.’s Bag Law, was designed to create an incentive for the public to reduce the use of disposable bags by bringing our own reusable bags.  The District Bag Law, which went into effect two years ago, was in response to a trash study which found that disposable plastic bags were one of the largest sources of litter in the Anacostia River.  Since D.C.’s law went into effect, it has reduced plastic bag litter in rivers and streams by an estimated 65 percent.

The law is designed to improve our environment by cutting down on the number of plastic bags — a significant source of litter — which pollute our streets, streams, and playgrounds, and harm property values.  The money collected from the carryout bag law will go exclusively into the county’s Water Quality Protection Charge fund, which finances county watershed protection activities, including litter control and stormwater pollution control.

The revenues will effectively shift the burden of litter clean-up costs from all public taxpayers to only those consumers who choose to use store bags.  Avoiding the fee is simple:  whenever you go shopping, bring your own bags to carry your purchases out of the store.  Keep them in your vehicle and you won’t forget them.   ■

   © 2011 NFCCA  [Source:]