Trash Free Maryland has distributed an Action Alert requesting our support for the Community Cleanup and Greening Act! Read on for more information on this important legislation then check out their Action Alert to send your state representatives an e-mail with your support. If you work (or live) in Prince George’s County, please share your support for a Prince George’s County Bag Fee.
Hundreds of neighborhood and stream cleanups are held in Maryland annually, and one of the biggest culprits polluting our waterways, roadsides, and trees are plastic bags. Removal costs for this litter add millions to county and state budgets each year, and much of the trash is used once, for a few minutes, before being discarded.
Reusable bags are an easy alternative to plastic bags–the challenge for shoppers is remembering to bring them. A five-cent fee on plastic and paper bags has already been proven to quickly shift shoppers to reusing bags, thereby reducing litter and saving retailers and governments money. While disposable bags are frequently given away for free, the true cost of purchase and disposal is hidden in higher prices and taxes. Counties and towns across Maryland are considering and passing their own bag ordinances; a statewide system will be more clear and efficient for consumers and retailers alike.
The Community Cleanup and Greening Act, sponsored by Delegate Mary Washington (District 43, Baltimore City) and Senator Brian Frosh (District 16, Montgomery County) will place a five-cent fee on plastic and paper shopping bags. The proceeds will be used first to purchase and distribute free reusable bags to low-income and elderly residents. The remaining proceeds will be given to counties to apply to water quality improvement projects and to the Chesapeake Bay Trust to administer as environmental restoration grants.
This legislation would:
- Reduce litter in Maryland’s neighborhoods and waterways. Plastic bag use is projected to drop 60% or more.
- Save retailers money by not having to buy as many bags to give away. A single shop owner could save upwards of $1,000 per year.
- Save consumers money when they avoid the hidden cost of “free” bags in higher prices. The average Maryland consumer spends up to $37.50 each year in hidden bag costs.
- Create green jobs by giving counties valuable funds for community investments such as neighborhood greening, stormwater improvements, watershed implementation plans, etc.
- Distribute hundreds of thousands of free cloth bags to those in need.
For more information, visit the Trash Free Maryland Alliance.