Baltimore County Bans Plastic Shopping Bags
Baltimore County is the latest local government in the U.S. to ban plastic shopping bags.
The Baltimore County Council voted five-to-two Monday to approve the “Bring Your Own Bag Act,” following in the footsteps of the City of Baltimore, which passed its plastic bag ban in 2019.
“Plastic bags have been a menace on our environment for many, many years and now we’re going to address that issue,” Baltimore County Second District Councilman Izzy Patoka said, as CBS Baltimore reported.
The bill was supported by local green groups including Maryland PIRG because of the impact that plastic bags have on the Baltimore environment. Every method of disposing of the bags poses a problem, according to Maryland PIRG. Recycling them tangles machines while incinerating them contributes to air pollution and landfilling them risks contributing to water pollution due to leaks. But if they are not properly disposed of, they can blow into the broader environment and litter waterways including Chesapeake Bay.
“We’ve always had this issue on our radar,” Baltimore County Council Chairman Julian Jones, D-District 4, told WBAL TV. “Many of the environmental groups have been lobbying us forever to pass a bag ban, a plastic bag ban.”
The bill was introduced by three council members including Patoka. However, it was not without controversy. It finally passed only after several amendments, WBAL TV reported further. These included:
- Reducing the fee for requesting a paper bag at a store from 10 to five cents.
- Exempting most small businesses.
- Adding a 90-day grace period.
Farmers markets will also be exempted from charging for bags, CBS Baltimore reported.
Two council members voted against the ban, including Jones. The other was District Seven Councilmember Todd Crandell, who considered it an act of government overreach.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever seen on my eight-plus years on the council a more convoluted piece of legislation,” Crandell said, as WBAL TV reported. “In fact, so convoluted that it needed 10 amendments in an attempt to get it right, and all that we’re going to do is establish a tax on consumers across Baltimore County.”
Supporters, however, clarified that it was not a tax because the retailers do not need to give the fee money to the county, according to CBS Baltimore. Instead, the point of the fee is to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags.
Baltimore residents had varying opinions on the new ban.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Baltimore County resident Keith DeFontes said, as CBS Baltimore reported. “I think the county needs to let people be people. Stay out of their personal affairs and, pretty much, if they want to use plastic, let them use plastic.”
But others thought cutting back on plastic usage was worth it.
“I feel like just using paper bags or using alternative is completely better than using plastic bags because it’s already just harming the environment,” community member Brandon Jackson said before the bill passed, as WBAL TV reported at the time.
The new law will now go into effect Nov. 1 of this coming year. That’s around two years after the City of Baltimore ban went into effect in October of 2021 after a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The city ban also mandates a five cent charge per bag, but asks for one cent of that to be returned to the government.
A total of eight U.S. states have banned plastic bags, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. However, the number of city and county governments that have passed bans is much higher. You can see all bag legislation within your or any state at Banthebag.com.
The post Baltimore County Bans Plastic Shopping Bags appeared first on EcoWatch.