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More Evidence That D.C.'s Bag Tax Had a Big Effect

When Washington, D.C.'s five-cent plastic bag tax went into effect, it looked like a good idea. Evidence just keeps mounting that it was.


When Washington, D.C.'s plastic bag tax (five cents per bag at grocery and convenience stores) went into effect, it looked like a good idea. Early assessments suggested it was. And now, later assessments are only confirming it further.

Washington D.C.'s five-cent tax on plastic shopping bags has cut their use by more than half, the WSJ reports this morning.


Last year, D.C. shoppers used about 270 million disposable bags. Since the tax went into effect this year, stores are giving out about 60 percent fewer bags, surveys suggest.

Critics of these taxes generally cast this as a case of big government interfering with the free market. It's important to remember that this is actually an attempt to make the market function better by internalizing costs of plastic bags that aren't otherwise part of the price. Greg Mankiw would approve (I assume).

Hopefully we'll get some data soon that sheds light on another aspect of the bag tax debate: Whether it kills jobs by hurting the plastic crap industry.

Image (cc) from Flickr user soupermanultra

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