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Capital Takes Bag Tax In Stride

The Wall Street Journal - September 21, 2010

By SARA MURRAY And SUDEEP REDDY

WASHINGTON - Nine months after Washington's city government imposed a five-cent tax on disposable shopping bags at food stores, the small fee has spurred a big change in behavior with little evident griping.

Recyclable bags have become a ubiquitous accessory, and stores are reporting a sharp drop in the use of plastic and paper bags.

"I am somewhat surprised by the extent to which people changed their behavior," said Christophe A.G. Tulou, acting director of the city Department of the Environment. "What we've done is created a market mechanism that gives people an incentive" not to use disposable bags.

When it took effect Jan. 1, the bag tax met with some consumer resistance. It also created confusion, because it applies to purchases not only at grocery and liquor stores, but at any store - a clothing store, a bookstore, a greeting-card shop.that sells any food or alcohol.

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