Baltimore County may follow other jurisdictions like Baltimore City and ban single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter.
The Baltimore County — Bring Your Own Bag Act — legislation was introduced Tuesday night by Councilman Izzy Patoka, a Democrat. Patoka represents District 2, which includes Pikesville. It would ban retailers from offering plastic bags beginning Nov. 1, 2023.
“Plastic is nor great for our future. It’s been a menace to the environment,” Patoka said.
Under the legislation, retailers can offer paper or reusable bags but must charge customers at least 10 cents each.
Some grocery retailers, like Trader Joe’s in Towson, already distribute paper bags to customers. Big box retailers like Walmart and the Catonsville HMart, an international grocery chain give customers single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter.
There are exceptions under the proposed rules in Baltimore County. People who receive food benefits such as from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would not be charged for any bags, whether paper or reusable bags.
Baltimore County residents use almost 1 million plastic bags each day collectively in a region with roughly 850,000 people, according to the Greater Baltimore Group of the Sierra Club.
Proponents of a ban on plastic bags say Baltimore County residents are filling up landfills and trashing coastlines.
“What we’re trying to do is change behavior,” Patoka, the councilman who sponsored the bill said.
Newly elected Councilman Mike Ertel, a Democrat who represents District 6, which includes Towson, is a cosponsor of the legislation.
“There are bags everywhere,” Ertel said. “They’re in trees. This year for the first time I think that I can ever remember as a boater, I saw bags floating in the middle of the Chesapeake (Bay).”