A Baltimore City Council committee advanced a proposal to ban retailers from giving shoppers plastic bags in most cases and requiring them to charge a nickel for any other type of bag, including paper. The ban would not apply to bags used to hold fresh fish, meat or produce, newspapers, dry cleaning or prescription drugs. It otherwise would apply to all sales at grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, gas stations or “other sales outlet[s].”
Settling debates that had slowed the legislative process since the council began considering the bill this summer, the lawmakers removed a provision exempting some thicker plastic bags from the ban and decided that 4 cents of the fee on each bag would go back to retailers. Previously, the ban was set to apply only to thinnest of plastic bags — those 2.25 thousandths of an inch or thinner like the typical grocery store bag — and the fee gave retailers only a penny for each paper bag they handed out.
The bill is scheduled for a preliminary vote from the full council Nov. 4. It had been expected to get a vote at Monday night’s council meeting, but Democratic Councilman Eric Costello said the body missed a printing deadline to move the measure that quickly. A supermajority of the council co-sponsors the bill, so it is expected to pass easily. Such bans on single-use plastic bags are expected to contribute to reducing litter where they’re imposed.