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.