BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Council is giving a plastic bag ban in the city another go.
In June, councilman Bill Henry introduced the legislation, which would ban plastic bags and create a five-cent surcharge for paper and compostable bags given out at the checkout. The goal is to push shoppers into using reusable bags.
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“The main point is to change behavior and that will get at the issue. This bill does that,” said Jennifer Drivan with the National Aquarium.
The aquarium supports the ban, saying 96 percent of the trash they’ve picked up in the city in the past two decades was plastic.
“Last year alone, we saw 2,600 plastic bags in Baltimore city through our trash cleanup cleanups alone,” Drivan said.
Grocery store operators, however, said the burden to do business in the city is already too high. ShopRite, which has several stores in the Baltimore area, is opposed to the ban.
“The legislation, as it’s written, puts us in a very tough spot,” said company representative Stephen Klein.
The ShopRite store in Howard Park has yet to turn a profit, the company said, in part because of the city’s five-cent bottle tax.
“We’re here investing in communities were no one else wants to invest, but it is incredibly expensive to do business in Baltimore city. There’s taxes, fees. Property taxes are double what they are in the county,” Klein said.
Eleventh district Councilman Eric Costello said it’s important for the ban to strike a healthy balance.
“I think we need to make sure the fee is set appropriately where we are not pushing grocery stores away. I mean, we have food deserts, and we are trying to attract grocery stores to our city,” he said.
A similar ban passed in 2014, but then-mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake vetoed it. The latest push marks the ninth time supporters have tried to pass the legislation.
The city’s finance department estimates the ban would generate $1.2 million in its first year.
Last year, the city council unanimously approved a ban on Styrofoam containers.