Baltimore County Council members met to discuss a proposed plastic bag ban on January 31, 2023. Photo by John Lee/WYPR.

People who want Baltimore County businesses to be barred from using plastic bags told the County Council Tuesday that the bags are a scourge on the environment by fouling waterways and overloading landfills.

Opponents of the proposed bag ban bill countered that it would put an undue burden on businesses and shoppers alike.

Multiple amendments are expected to be proposed for the controversial legislation before a vote, which is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 6.

About 20 people spoke on the legislation at Tuesday’s public hearing, including Nicole Youse, who owns Crossroads Bistro in Sparrows Point in Eastern Baltimore County.

Youse asked that restaurants be exempt from a plastic bag ban. She said she used to use paper bags until an irate customer stormed into the restaurant and caused a scene.

“Over what?” Youse asked. “The fact that her soup spilled, her container had leaked and her fries created some moisture and grease, and that caused a paper bag to destruct and her food to land all over the back of her very expensive car.”

Youse paid to have the customer’s car cleaned.

“We honestly cannot allow our customers to bring their own bags due to the fact that cross-contamination that may result in food-borne illness and we would be blamed,” Youse said.

But proponents of the legislation warned that plastic bags are doing enormous damage in local waterways and landfills.

“They clog storm drains, they get caught in trees, they’re just everywhere in huge numbers,” said Andrew Miller, a county resident and a Geography and Environmental Systems professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “They harm wildlife and aquatic life, not only in streams and wetlands, but in the Chesapeake Bay and the world’s oceans.”

The legislation would ban retailers from offering plastic bags beginning Nov. 1, 2023.

Under the legislation, retailers can offer paper or reusable bags but must charge customers at least 10 cents each.

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.

One reply on “Ditching plastic bags debated in Baltimore County”

  1. This is predominantly a measure of collecting 10 cents per bag for revenue. First and foremost, bags dont mess up the environment people do! People who do not properly dispose of or recycle bags. This is an undue burden on disabled persons, have you tried to carry a paper bag with no handles and walk with a cane? Its not easy. There is no way to grip a paper bag. It needs to be supported from the bottom and basically carried using both hands, you cant walk with a cane and carry a bag with two hands at the same time. Reusable bags are a hazzard. Just wait until someone brings their reusable bag into your store and drops off their cockroach or cockroach eggs in your store; or lice, etc. Have you shopped at Wegman’s while it was raining only to have your paper bag rip apart because of moisture? Did anyone consider the impact on the trees from producing more paper bags? Paper bags also attract insects, pest, and rodents.

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