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Baltimore's Plastic Bag Ban Becomes Law, Will Go Into Effect In 2021

Courtesy of the office of Councilman Bill Henry

Mayor Jack Young signed a plastic bag ban into law on Monday morning, marking Baltimore’s effort to reduce pollution and single-use plastics.

The Comprehensive Bag Reduction Bill was the council’s ninth attempt to ban plastic bags since 2006. Surrounded by the ban’s supporters at National Aquarium, Young said now is the time. 

The Democrat thanked former councilman Jim Kraft, the first Baltimore City legislator who attempted to ban plastic bags. Councilman Bill Henry, a Democrat representing northeast Baltimore, introduced the legislation signed on Monday.

“I’m proud to have Baltimore City finally join the list of cities, states, and countries around the globe that have halted the proliferation of single-use plastic bags,” Henry said.   

“Baltimore is leading the way in creating cleaner neighborhoods and waterways so we can leave our city and state better than which we found them,” Young said. 

The ban will go into effect a year from Monday. It prohibits the use of single-use plastic bags throughout the city. It also requires retailers to charge customers a nickel for other bags they give to shoppers at the point of sale, such as paper bags. 

Retailers will keep 4 cents from that fee. The remaining penny will go to the city’s general fund. Council  members will lobby that the money go toward environmental funding. 

“My hope is that one day we can walk Baltimore’s streets and parks and never again see a plastic bag choking the branches of a tree, or cartwheeling down the street, or fouling the waters of our Inner Harbor,” National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli said.  

Also today, Delegate Brooke Lierman introduced legislation to the Maryland General Assembly that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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