If the bill passes, Maryland would become the ninth state to ban plastic bags.
Plastic bags, beware—Maryland's Plastic Bag Reduction Act moves from the House to the Senate, and if it passes, stores will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags starting July 2022. A version of the bill almost passed last year, but never reached the Senate "due to the abbreviated legislative session," according to WTOP. It may have better odds this year, as Del. Brian Crosby (D-St. Mary's) "would allow orchard farmers to provide plastic bags to customers for its fruits and vegetables."
This amendment may help to ease concerns about increased costs for small businesses. As Del. Mark Fisher (R-Calvert) told the House Economic Matters committee, "It puts the small guys, and the small business women, at yet another disadvantage to the Walmarts of the world. For the small guys, it's a big deal." Still, some argue, customers are already paying for bags, and grocers buying paper bags instead of plastic "will similarly get incorporated into their cost of doing business."
Some cities and counties have already passed similar laws. Del. Courtney Watson (D-Howard), who has seen how a plastic bag ban has affected her own county, said, "This is an environmental initiative. Our businesses have been able to adjust in all areas of the county big and small. And I think it's way, way past time to do this."
While Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott postponed a similar ban due to COVID-related economic hardships, it will now go into effect in Baltimore in July. According to Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City), who is sponsoring the statewide bill, Maryland creates almost 12 million tons of solid waste a year: 13% from plastics, with a 30% increase in 2020, when carry out from restaurants and grocery stores reigned supreme due to the pandemic.
According to WTOP, "Plastic bags either end up in landfills, where they can take hundreds of years to degrade, or they float around, clogging up waterways, increasing litter and hurting wildlife." And as Adam Ortiz, director of Montgomery County's Department of Environmental Protection put it, the cost of cleaning that up falls on taxpayers. "Unlike other pollutants," Ortiz said, "we know exactly where [plastic bags] are coming from, and we can stop it."
Do you think the potential new law will make a difference? Is it too much, or not enough? Sound off in the comments.