Starting in January, consumers in the District will have to get their nickels ready if they don't bring reusable bags when they shop at the grocery store, drug store and other retail outlets that sell food.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has signed the bill expected to significantly curb the use of paper and plastic bags, which officials hope will reduce the amount of trash that makes its way in to the Anacostia River. The council unanimously approved the legislation last month.
Businesses will charge customers five cents for every bag they take out of the store. That money will go into the new Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund.
The District Department of the Environment will begin a campaign to publicize the five-cent fee by October and will set up a public-private partnership to distribute free reusable bags to those who need them.
"Under this new law, the simple steps we take every day will result in a healthier Anacostia River," Fenty said in a statement. "Disposable bags are a menace to our waterways, and dramatically cutting down on their use will have a measurable impact almost immediately."