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Montgomery Co. To Charge Shoppers Extra For Plastic, Paper Bags

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Bring your own or pay up. Some stores right here in Maryland will now charge you more money to take your purchases home in a plastic or paper bag. Now the question is whether the tax is needed statewide.

Kai Jackson explains the reasons behind the added fee.

This sweeping bag tax in Montgomery County prompts the question of whether other jurisdictions around Maryland will do the same.

They’re quick and convenient.  Plastic and paper bags are everywhere. But oftentimes they end up in places they shouldn’t be, like rivers, streams and storm drains, polluting the environment.

“I don’t think it’s particularly surprising given how many plastic bags people use and probably how many are carelessly discarded,” said Jeff Goldsmith, of Roland Park.

Paper or plastic may be the question you’re asked at the grocery store, but in Montgomery County citizens are now kicking out more coin no matter what bag they choose or who hands it out.

The County Council approved a 5 cent tax on paper and plastic bags at all retail stores.

“Our attempt here is not to obtain revenue but to get people to reform to utilizing reusable bags,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett.

No one wants to pay more taxes, but some say they’d be willing to make the sacrifice if it meant cleaning up and protecting the environment.

“I think it’s a great idea if it’s going to help eliminate bags, and I’m all for the environment, so I think it’s a great idea,” said Ritchie Schell, of Roland Park.

Montgomery County estimates the tax will generate about $1.5 million a year.

That’s money the county executive says will be used to clean up rivers and streams.

“The consumer pays it. It’s a tax,” said Jeff Zellmer, Maryland Retailers Association.

“Five cents per bag, you said?  That’s a lot,” said Nabil Mezhoudi, of Hampden.

Montgomery County’s bag tax takes effect Jan. 1, 2012. The county will give reusable bags to those who want them.

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