It is the first time a charge has been brought in anywhere in the United States, while in the United Kingdom Wales is to introduce a five pence charge for bags this year.

And, British firm Marks and Spencer already operate a scheme where all shoppers are charged five pence for every disposable bag they use.

From the start of this year the businesses in Washington DC will also be able to offer customers a rebate of one or two cents if they bring in their own bag, with the remaining three or four cents go to the new Anacostia River Protection Fund.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said: “The cash will be used to provide reusable bags, educate the public about litter, and clean up the river.

“The district has also partnered with CVS/pharmacy to produce and hand out 112,000 reusable bags.”

Luke Walsh

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