Baltimore Addresses Plastic Pollution

Our hometown of Baltimore is currently considering legislation to reduce plastic pollution by eliminating the distribution of single-use plastic bags.

Published August 13, 2019

We support policies in Baltimore and beyond that aim to curb plastic pollution in communities, waterways and wildlife habitats. Last year alone, the National Aquarium removed 2,639 plastic bags from streams, rivers and wetlands in Baltimore City. We believe plastic pollution is an issue we can stop in our lifetime.

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As the City Council considers this legislation, we chatted with our experts to help answer your questions about this bill and how it will impact efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

Q: What is the bag bill that has been introduced by members of the Baltimore City Council?

A: The bill, formally referred to as the Comprehensive Bag Reduction bill, bans single-use plastic checkout bags that are commonly found at retailers across the city. The bill also mandates a fee for paper or compostable plastic bags given away at checkout. The fee is designed to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable shopping bags. The bag fee will be waived for shoppers who rely on SNAP, WIC and similar assistance programs.

We hope the funds generated by the paper bag fee will be used to purchase reusable bags for city residents and support litter mitigation and prevention efforts. As more people own and use reusable bags, the number of single-use bags being used will decrease, resulting in less plastic pollution.

You can find the full text of the bill here.

Q: Why are plastic bags so bad for the environment?

A: Each year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean across the globe. These floating plastics gradually break down, but never fully disintegrate or disappear. Plastic pollution poses a serious threat to both wildlife and humans. As the presence of plastic in the ocean increases, humans are consuming more microplastics through seafood and other foods.

Q: How can I help stem the tide of plastic pollution?

A: Many cities across the United States have passed or are considering similar laws, and all of these efforts may give you inspiration to form a similar push in your own community! Plastic pollution is a global problem—let decision-makers know that it matters to you that we work to reduce plastic use. Carefully consider the most equitable and impactful changes you can make, and work with leaders in your community to identify win-win scenarios wherever possible.

There are also plenty of plastic-free habits you can develop. Investing in reusable shopping bags and cutting down on single-use plastics in your home, like plastic wrap or plastic sandwich bags, is a great first step. There are plenty of alternatives to consider, including beeswax wrap and bento boxes. Check out our free, downloadable toolkit for skipping single-use plastics here.

If you'd like to show your support for eliminating single-use plastic bags and reducing plastic pollution in Baltimore City, sign our pledge here.

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