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The District Council in Washington, D.C. is debating whether or not to tax plastic and paper bags at supermarket checkouts, according to a published report.
A majority of the council backs the five-cent tax on both plastic and paper bags, which, if passed, would be one of the country's toughest laws. The law would apply to grocers, food vendors and convenience stores as well as other businesses. The money earned from the tax would be diverted to cleaning up the city's Anacostia River, where plastic bags are the highest pollutant.
Tom Zaucha, president and chief executive of the National Grocers Association, citing the fact that many grocers now sell reusable bags, told the Washington Post, "It's a question that the marketplace will resolve, frankly."
Noted green-friendly Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) sponsored the measure.
The issue of bagging in supermarkets has gained traction in recent years, as grocers look to save money while aiding the environment. To this end, in 2007, San Francisco banned plastic bags, which prompted retail chain Whole Foods Markets to make the nationwide switch from plastic to recycled paper. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is attempting to impose a five-cent tax on plastic bags, and the Seattle City Council has a proposed 20-cent fee on plastic and paper that will go before a public vote in August. Additionally, Publix now sells reusable bags in their stores as part of its sustainability program.