Baltimore County residents will no longer be able to buy plastic bags when they go grocery shopping after a new law goes into effect later this year.
The County Council voted Monday evening to pass the Bring Your Own Bag Act. The vote was 5-2, with Councilman Todd Crandell, a Republican from Dundalk, and Chairman Julian Jones Jr., a Woodstock Democrat, casting dissenting votes.
Council members Mike Ertel and Izzy Patoka, Democrats from Towson and Pikesville, respectively, and David Marks, a Republican from Perry Hall, introduced the bill last month to incentivize people to begin using reusable bags.
Under the law, which takes effect Nov. 1, customers will be charged a minimum of 5 cents for any paper or reusable bag they buy, which was amended from a previous version that would have levied at least a 10-cent fee. Shoppers who bring reusable bags will not be charged a fee.
The bill is meant to curtail customers’ use of plastic bags and cut down on litter, after the three council members said they had heard complaints from residents about trash on the streets.
“I vote for the environment,” Marks previously told The Baltimore Sun after he, Patoka and Ertel introduced the bill at a Jan. 3 council meeting.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, supported the measure.
Before the vote, Marks said: “I will support any efforts to reduce plastic pollution to try and make sure we can preserve the precious county resources we’re spending on removing litter and to preserve the vitality of our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.”
Ertel also framed the act as a tool for reducing waste as Baltimore County’s sole landfill nears capacity.
But council opponents saw it as something else.
“This bill is a complete government overreach into the relationship consumers have with the establishments they patronize,” Crandell said. “I don’t think I’ve seen, in my eight-plus years on the council, a more convoluted piece of legislation. I think this puts an undue burden on our business community.”
Jones said the bill would be an added burden on customers, who already are paying inflated prices for eggs and other goods, and would force retailers to implement an unpopular rule on their consumers without recourse.
So, bring your own bag to buy fentanyl.