a pile of garbage sitting on top of a sandy beach

Take Action! Ban Plastic Bags in Baltimore County

We’re just a few weeks into 2023, and there are already so many exciting advocacy initiatives to support! As Maryland’s state legislative session gets underway this week, the Baltimore County Council is also starting the year off strong by introducing a bill to ban plastic bags. Read more about this bill below and take action in support of this effort to reduce harmful plastic pollution! 

What’s in the Bring Your Own Bag Act?

On January 3rd, Baltimore County Councilmembers Patoka, Marks, and Ertel introduced the Bring Your Own Bag Act (Bill 1-23). The bill has three key components, all of which we strongly advocated for: 

  1. Bans plastic bags at most retailers;
  2. Requires stores to charge 10 cents per paper bag to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping; and 
  3. Exempts purchases made with food assistance programs such as SNAP or WIC from the replacement bag charge to reduce disparate impacts. 

If passed, the bill will go into effect on November 1, 2023 and will add Baltimore County to the growing list of Maryland jurisdictions taking action against plastic pollution.

Why does this bill matter?

Plastic bags pollute our communities, clog our storm drains and streams, and harm plants and animals. When our water quality scientists are out taking samples in our streams and Harbor, they see plastic bags everywhere. 

Plastic bags and other plastic products also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental justice concerns at every stage of production and disposal, worsening the climate crisis, and they cannot be effectively or efficiently recycled. A lot of plastic waste in the Baltimore region is burned at the BRESCO trash incinerator in South Baltimore, degrading air quality, contributing to poor health outcomes, and exacerbating environmental racism. 

Banning plastic bags is an important upstream solution that protects our environment and helps build toward a zero waste future. “Hybrid” bills like Baltimore County’s Bring Your Own Bag Act that both ban plastic bags and require retailers to charge for paper bags have proven to be effective in reducing plastic waste and encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags in jurisdictions around the country. However, when not properly implemented, the charge on paper bags can have disparate impacts on low-income residents. To combat this inequity, many plastic bag ban laws across the country exempt purchases made with SNAP, WIC, or other similar food assistance programs from the paper bag charge. Baltimore County’s Bring Your Own Bag Act includes this important equity provision.

Take Action!

1. Submit testimony! You can testify in support of this bill in person or virtually during the Jan 31st hearing and/or submit written testimony ahead of time. Email written testimony to [email protected]. To speak during the hearing, you must register in advance using the online Speaker Registration Form on 1/31/23 between 9am – 3pm. You can use our handy testimony guide to get started and contact Taylor at [email protected] if you need help.

2. Attend the public hearing! Provide oral testimony or just tune in to follow the discussion on this bill on January 31st, 2023 at 4pm. There are three ways to join: 

3. Spread the word! Share this blog post and our action alert with your friends and encourage them to support the Bring Your Own Bag Act in Baltimore County!

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