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Baltimore County council to vote on plastic bag ban

If passed, ban goes into effect November 1
Plastic bag ban
Posted at 7:20 AM, Feb 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-06 07:51:07-05

TOWSON, Md. — Plastic bags could soon become a thing of the past for shoppers as they checkout at Baltimore County stores.

The Baltimore County council is scheduled to vote Monday on a plastic bag ban at stores and restaurants.

If it passes, the plastic bag ban won't happen overnight. Businesses will still be able to hand out plastic bags until this fall as it would't go into effect until November 1, 2023.

The “Bring Your Own Bag" Act would require businesses to charge at least 10 cents for a paper or reusable carryout bag or customers can bring their own when they shop.

However, that fee would not apply to any customers who use snap or any other type of state or federal food vouchers.

Retail stores that break the plastic bag ban would get a written notice to correct the situation within seven days or face a fine up to $500.

When the “Bring Your Own Bag" act was introduced in early January, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said he supported the legislation as a way to protect the environment for this generation and the next.

Olszewski released a statement which read “I commend this bipartisan effort by members of the county council to reduce single-use plastics, which will help prevent plastic bags from littering our trees, waterways, and neighborhoods."

The county executive also plans to provide free reusable bags for Baltimore County residents.

Zachary Taylor, the director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance made his case against the proposed ban and sent a letter to Olszewski and Baltimore County Council chairman Julian Jones.

Besides the additional costs to consumers who have to pay for a paper bag or buy their own reusable bags, Taylor pointed out the additional cost to retailers, especially small businesses and grocery stores that already may operate on thin profit margins.

Taylor also mentioned the affect a ban could have on a bag manufacturing facility in Elkridge that employs more than 175 people.

Instead of an outright ban on plastic bags, the plastic bag alliance supports a “if you don’t need a bag, don’t take one” stance on sustainability.

According to the Maryland chapter of the environmental activist group Sierra Club, Baltimore County residents use about one million plastic bags a day or nearly 365 million bags a year.

The Baltimore County council legislative session starts at 6 p.m.

Anyone who wants to attend in-person or watch online.