Vision: IPC envisions a time when using reusable bags will be as second-nature as putting on your seat belt! It took a law like that to get people to wear seat belts -- this is no different. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our communities and threaten wildlife for centuries.
Bill Numbers, Sponsors
If Passed, What Would this Bill Do?
- Ban plastic bags with a thickness of less than 4 mils. This applies to any retail establishment.
- If retailers want to offer customers paper bags or plastic bags that are greater than 4 mil thickness, they can do so at their convenience. They can choose to charge customers for that bag if they want, but that is up to them. Local governments also cannot mandate that they charge customers to purchase bags. There is also no government-imposed fee/tax for the bag.
- If municipalities want to impose a fee/tax on the use of these bags, they can do so, but they need to go to their county delegation for approval (the county delegation include all of the state-elected delegates from the county). This rule about getting approval from the county delegation for new fees/taxes is not new -- it is long-standing Maryland law.
- Since this bill does not add a fee or tax, there is no SNAP/WIC exemption.
- Some environmental advocates may argue that 4 mil does not go far enough in limiting the introduction of single-use plastics into the ecosystem. This is a valid argument and one that could be addressed down the road, such as a “technical fix” in a future bill that would increase this from 4 mil to a higher threshold. Environmental, retail, and hunger advocacy groups could work together to determine what the proper threshold should be. But, putting this bill into place right now at least sets up the infrastructure for how a ban could work down the road and how retailers can still offer customers disposable bags without being bound by government-imposed fees.
Why are we using fossil fuels that have been in the Earth for millions of years in order to produce a plastic bag that will be used once and thrown away? All faiths hold the central "golden rule" which calls us to "love our neighbors." By reducing plastic use, we will reduce plastic pollution and treat others the way we would want our own communities treated.
Environmental Justice Implications: Plastic bags account for a significant portion of trash and litter pollution in our neighborhood streets, communities, and waterways, including streams and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake Bay. Urban communities suffer from plastic bags blowing around the streets. This ban will spark a change in the way our retailers operate and result in cleaner urban neighborhoods.
Plastics are Harmful to our Earth
- Plastic bags are virtually un-recyclable and do not biodegrade
- 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels
- Every stage in the plastic lifecycle produces greenhouse gas emissions
Plastics are Harmful to Wildlife:
- Plastics eventually break down into a plastic "soup" easily ingested by wildlife
- They contain toxic chemicals including carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors
Plastics are Harmful to Humans:
- Toxins ingested by birds, fish and other wildlife are passed on to humans
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