TLP Packaging LLC

Aldermen consider Frederick plastic bag ban, with charge for paper bags

Monday, 13/02/2023

Retailers in Frederick raise concerns about a potential city ordinance that would forbid single-use plastic bags and promote the use of reusable bags, but environmentalists believe the city must take this action.  

reusable bag, shopping bag, recycled bag, wholesale shopping bags, woven pp, paper bags, custom paper bags, kraft paper bag, reusable paper bags, supermarket bag, reusable shopping bags, reusable bag, recycled pp woven bag, recycle bags, pp woven bag, non-woven bags, cheap pp woven bag, reusable grocery bags, protect environment

At a workshop on Wednesday, the mayor and council members of the city analyzed the potential ordinance and heard from the general public.

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak's draft ordinance would forbid companies from providing non-reusable plastic bags to customers, with the exception of bags needed for:

  • To wrap meat, fish or frozen foods
  • For bulk items such as fruits, nuts or grains
  • For flowers, ice and other damp items
  • For unwrapped foods or baked goods
  • For dry-cleaned clothing or other garments
  • For transporting live fish, insects, mollusks, crustaceans or other animals.

It would charge customers 10 cents each for paper bags, in an attempt to incentivize the use of more permanent reusable bags.  According to Frederick resident Patrice Gallagher, who assisted Kuzemchak in developing the proposal, the legislation would make an effort to alter consumer behavior in order to lessen the tremendous effects that plastic bag pollution has on the environment.

She claimed that plastic bags can take a thousand years to decompose and that their leftovers can turn into tiny plastic particles that can enter waterways. Microplastics have been found in human lungs, blood, placenta and breast milk, Gallagher said.

"The single-use plastics problem is huge," she said.

Twelve states and more than 500 communities have enacted bag bans, said Kerri Hesley, who also helped with the proposed ordinance. In Maryland, jurisdictions including Baltimore, Westminster, Takoma Park, Laurel, and Howard and Montgomery counties have passed similar bans.

On Monday, Baltimore County passed a ban on plastic bags that requires stores and restaurants to charge for paper or reusable bags.

Some people have argued that the 10-cent tax is unfair and urged that the legislation exempt recipients of funds from the Women, Infants, and Children's Program or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Kuzemchak said she believes the impact for people would be minimal, and said she would like to see the city include money in its budget to help lower-income people buy reusable bags. Even if someone comes out of a grocery store with 10 bags, they're looking at a dollar in bag fees, she said.

Alderman Kelly Russell said that while the ordinance aims to ban plastic bags, it actually aims to do more than that by also trying to move people away from using paper bags by including the fee. And while the cost for each trip to the store may be small, it will add up for people in lower-income households, she said. Lower-income communities often feel the effects of environmental pollution more than others, said Alderman Derek Shackelford, who wondered how to best educate people on the new policy and incentivize them to change.

Craig Giangrande, who owns three Burger King franchises in the city, said the person who takes an order wouldn't necessarily know how it will be filled or how many bags are used. Giangrande said he thinks the ordinance could change people's behavior in grocery stores, but it's hard to see how it would work with restaurants.

Melvin Thompson, representing the Restaurant Association of Maryland, requested an exemption for restaurants from the ban on plastic and the fee for paper bags. Plastic bags are often used for foods that can be messy or will leak, and online ordering platforms mean that restaurants often get an order after the customer has paid, he said.

After comments from more than a dozen speakers, Kuzemchak said she hadn't heard anything to support general changes to the ordinance, although she's willing to listen if people have specific changes.


Write your comment