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The Bag Fee Is a Win for All
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by www.TrashFreeMaryland.org | 2011

The legislation puts a new focus on reducing the amount of trash that enters Maryland’s waterways and bolsters a fund dedicated to the cleanup and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. The legislation represents a unique attempt to work with business and environmental leaders to develop a shared strategy to reduce the amount of trash in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waterways

The Bag Fee Is a Win for All

 

The legislation puts a new focus on reducing the amount of trash that enters Maryland’s waterways and bolsters a fund dedicated to the cleanup and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. The legislation represents a unique attempt to work with business and environmental leaders to develop a shared strategy to reduce the amount of trash in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waterways.

 

How the Initiative Works

·         The legislation will place a small 5-cent fee on all single-use plastic and paper carryout bags.

·         The legislation requires that these plastic and paper carryout bags be recyclable.

 

Community Education and Outreach

·         The legislation delays implementation for 6 months to a year, requiring the state to conduct an intensive public information campaign and work with service providers to distribute multiple free reusable bags to seniors and low-income households.

 

How the Fee Would Be Used

·         The 5-cent fee will be divided between the state, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the business collecting the fee.

·         The bulk of the fee will be deposited into the Trust to target environmental cleanup, reclamation, and restoration efforts on the Chesapeake Bay and impaired local waterways, as well as to continue a

public education campaign and provide free reusable bags to Maryland residents, in particular to elderly and low-income residents.

·         Businesses will retain either 1 or 2 cents of the fee, depending whether they offer customers a carryout bag credit program for reusable bags.

 

Bag Fees Are Successful for Business, the Environment, and People

 

·         Other jurisdictions are moving in this direction, both regionally and internationally. In Washington, DC, after just one month of a similar fee, demand for plastic bags dropped as much as 80%. Volunteers in DC report a significant drop in bags collected at recent river cleanup events. Businesses report cost savings and cleaner property.

 

·         Many businesses are already taking steps on their own in addition to selling low-cost durable, reusable bags. Discount food stores like ALDI and Save-A-Lot charge customers a nominal fee for every bag—greatly reducing the number of plastic and paper bags used and encouraging customers to bring reusable bags. Walmart is testing a fee in California. Furniture store IKEA found that a 5-cent fee reduced disposable bag use so much that they phased them out entirely.

 

·         Reduced litter reduces litter cleanup costs. Maryland’s Department of Transportation spends $29 per bag of litter collected along the state’s highways. Counties spend millions of dollars each year on local pickup.

 

For more information, please visit www.TrashFreeMaryland.org.

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