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'Change is needed' Baltimore prepares for October's plastic bag ban

Posted at 3:45 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 06:53:49-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore's plastic bag ban is scheduled to begin next month. Mayor Brandon Scott made the announcement Wednesday at a press conference in the Inner Harbor.

"The bag ban is about improving the environment of our city as we work toward a more sustainable and equitable future together," said Mayor Scott. "Plastic bags contribute a huge deal to litter across Baltimore."

The ban was originally set to be implemented in July but was postponed due to the pandemic.

"By reducing our reliance on single-use plastic bags, we're able to better protect neighborhood green-spaces, public parks and our waterways," said Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry.

The ban prohibits single-use plastic checkout bags at the point of sale, pick up or delivery. Any other bags used will require a five cent surcharge.

"Four of that five cents will be kept by the retailer, and one cent will be remitted to the city," said Ava Richardson with the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. "As Mayor Scott said, that one cent will go into the general fund."

According to city leaders, plastic bags can be recycled but only 8% are. The rest wind up in landfills, are incinerated or thrown on the ground.

The ban will apply to supermarkets, convenience stores, corner stores, restaurants, shops, and gas stations.

"I think it's a good thing," said Lakesha Graham. "It's time for change."

Graham works at a retailer off Greenmount Avenue. She told WMAR-2 News the ban is much needed. She expects it'll help reduce area litter.

"Have you rolled down the street at 11 p.m. and seen the bags mixed in in with the trash," she asked. "It's horrible."

The ban does not apply to a plastic checkout bag that a person solely uses to contain fresh fish, meat or poultry products; unpackaged fruits, nuts or vegetables; foods and goods obtained at a farmers' market; prescription drugs; newspapers; or dry-cleaned goods.

City officials and businesses are said teams have been working to spread the message that customers need to bring their own bags.

"I'll miss the plastic bags," said Gloria Flood. "They're easy to carry but I'll make the switch. It's better for the environment."

To help residents make the change, more than 16,000 reusable bags have been handed out at various events.

The city is planning further outreach and bag giveaways in the coming days.

For more information on Baltimore's plastic bag ban click here.