Baltimore City Council Passes Retail Plastic Bag Ban

Baltimore City Council has passed legislation that bans retailers from distributing plastic bags, and imposes fees on other types of bags.

The bill now heads to the Mayor’s desk for final approval, and if signed into law would end a more than decade-long effort to restrict single use plastic bags in Baltimore. As previously reported on Conduit Street, legislation to ban plastic bags has encountered several obstacles, from a previous veto by former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in 2014, to disagreements this year among members of the city council over specific measures in the bill.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

The bill forbids retailers from giving out plastic bags, and requires them to charge a nickel for any other bag they supply to shoppers, such as a paper bag. It applies to grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants and gas stations, although some types of products would be exempt.

Retailers would keep 4 cents from the fee for each alternative bag they supply, with a penny going back to the city. The legislation would go into effect in late 2020, a year after the mayor signs it or allows it to become law without his signature. City Councilwoman Danielle McCray cast the lone vote against the ban, calling the 5-cent fee an “unnecessary and regressive tax.” Proponents of the bill say its an important step toward eliminating a ubiquitous form of litter.

From more coverage by WYPR:

Councilman Bill Henry, who first introduced the bill in June, said he was thrilled it finally passed. “I’m very happy that Baltimore has finally joined the ranks of cities, states and countries all around the world who have come to recognize the fact that single use plastic and really single use bags are not a good thing for their environment and that we should be trying to reduce their proliferation,” he said. The bill will go into effect one year after it becomes law, which will happen when Mayor Jack Young, a Democrat, either signs the bill or allows three city council meetings to pass without signing it. Henry said he hopes Young signs the bill outright.

To view more information about the proposed legislation visit Baltimore City Council’s website.