Those plastic bags you get at your local supermarket, or just about anywhere you shop in Baltimore City, could be a thing of the past under a measure City Councilman Bill Henry plans to introduce at Monday’s council meeting.
The bill would ban plastic bags altogether and place a surcharge of five cents on other bags — like paper or compostable bags —at the point of sale or during pick up or delivery.
The council, which does not have the authority to direct revenue from the five cent surcharge, will lobby to direct four cents toward environmental purposes. Businesses behind the point of sale would receive the remaining penny. People who receive benefits from federal food assistance programs, such as SNAP and WIC, would be exempt from the five cent fee.
The bill is not the council’s first attempt to curb plastic bag use in the city.
In 2014, the council voted 11 - 1, with two abstaining members, to ban plastic grocery bags, but then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake vetoed the measure introduced by former council member James Kraft. As a councilman, now-City Council President Brandon Scott introduced a failed 2013 bill that would have charged shoppers a fee of 10 cents per plastic bag.
Despite the several failed attempts at passing plastic bag legislation, 96 percent of Baltimore residents support policies that lead to waste reduction, recycling and reuse, according to a survey from the Department of Public Works. The department’s survey also showed another 86 percent of residents support policies that ban single-use plastics or other retailer responsibility policies.