I know there are plenty of you out there that think almost all taxes are evil. I disagree. Some taxes have the ability to alter poor behavior while simultaneously raise money. Pending on how it works, these types are the good ones.
There was a law set up last month in D.C. (passed unanimously by city council) to place a five-cent tax on paper and plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies and other food-service providers. So, basically, if I went shopping, my total came to $35.20, and I needed one bag to put it in, my total would then become $35.25. Similarly, if I needed two bags, my total would become $35.30, and so on — while if I simply bought reusable bags, I would be subject to no tax.
From what I hear from people in D.C., they absolutely hate it. Even though it’s just an extra five cents, they want absolutely nothing to do with it. They really want that nickel. So many people use less bags, bring their own, or just try to balance everything without one on their trip home. Think about how much less waste and pollution there is in D.C. now, because of a measly five-cent fee.
As D.C. Council member Jack Evans said before the tax was implemented:
“There is not a river I go to, a park I go, a stream I go to, where I don’t see plastic bags everywhere,” Evans (D-Ward 2) said. “The fact is our country is becoming inundated with plastic bags and plastic bottles. . . . This is the first step to try to address this issue.”
It’s certainly similar in the Lehigh Valley. I see plastic bags on the ground many places I go.
The reason why I bring this up is that there are currently two bills (Senate Bill 609 and House Bill 2200) in our own state legislature to ban plastic and paper bags statewide. However, according to PA Independent, there is no traction associated with either piece of legislation — perhaps because it is taking the furthest-reaching approach to try and ban all paper and plastic bags at grocery stores.
If it’s not gaining traction, what about the five-cent tax as a compromise? Seems to be working pretty well in D.C.