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Baltimore Considers Plastic Bag Ban

Baltimore officials want to ban retailers from giving out single-use plastic bags, but there’s legislative gridlock on the particulars.

Prohibitions on plastic bags could potentially benefit the promotional products industry, helping to spur sales of branded reusable alternatives, like totes, in the mid-Atlantic city of more than 600,000 people, as well as in nearby towns.

Still, for promo to have the chance to capitalize, Baltimore City Council has to enact the ban. A step in that direction was stunted Monday when a City Council committee opted not to send the proposal to the full council for consideration. Instead, the committee decided to hold a third public discussion of the proposal, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The need for more talk came amid disagreements over how much retailers should charge patrons who want to use paper bags. The legislation allows for retailers to provide paper bags as a single-use plastic bag alternative. The proposal calls for a 5-cent charge, but on Monday fees as high as 10 cents were discussed. Also, it’s unsettled how much of the charge retailers should get to keep; they want more than the 1-cent per paper bag charge that’s currently in the legislation.

“Plastic bags need to be banned,” Lester Davis, chief lobbyist for Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, told The Baltimore Sun. But he said it’s tough to say what exact shape the legislation banning the bags might ultimately take. “I think the council’s deadlocked,” he added.

Since 2006, similar bag ban proposals have failed to pass eight times in Baltimore. Nonetheless, proponents are holding out hope that the ninth time will be a charm.

A growing number of municipalities, cities and states, as well as countries, are considering or actively trying to ban single-use plastic bags. The motivation is environmental. Ban proponents say the bags present a threat to wildlife and cause litter and pollution.

The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year, according to Statista, and scientists estimate that up to 91% of plastic is never recycled.


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