BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you’re heading out to the grocery store or mall in Baltimore, remember to bring a bag or two with you.

After months of postponements, the city’s plastic bag ban went into effect Friday morning. The objective of the new rule is to crack down on pollution.

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Specifically, single-use plastic bags under four millimeters thick that are received at the point of purchase (at the cash register) are a no-go.

There are exemptions to the rule for plastic bags used to contain fresh meat and fish products, unpackaged fruits or nuts and unpackaged baked goods. For a full list of exceptions visit the website of Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability.

“Single-use plastics are not worth the convenience,” said National Aquarium President John Racanelli in 2020, when the bill was signed.

Retailers will no longer be able to give customers a plastic bag and will charge five cents for any alternative bag they provide, including paper bags. Four cents will go into the retailers’ pockets, while a penny will go to the city.

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There are no exceptions from the bag charge for FSP, WIC, or SNAP users.

The legislation doesn’t mean you’ll face consequences for using the grocery bags under your sink. In fact, the city is encouraging residents to reuse bags. Your stock of grocery bags won’t be endless anymore though.

The city has been distributing reusable bags ahead of the ban. According to Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability, the city is distributing a limited number of reusable bags to residents with accessibility challenges.

Any retailer found in violation of the ban at least three times could be fined up to $1,000.

 

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CBS Baltimore Staff