Maryland took a big step this week toward becoming the next state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags.
The House on Wednesday passed the Plastic Bag Reduction Act, which would prohibit businesses from giving away plastic bags at the point of sale, with a vote of 97-37. The bill next heads to the Senate, where it is also likely to pass.
The prospect of a plastic bag ban in Maryland is exciting to environmentalists, who point out that plastic litter chokes the state’s waterways, harms wildlife and can take decades or centuries to break down.
But business groups are concerned about the impact that a bag ban might have on their bottom lines, especially as they try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A patchwork of rules in different jurisdictions is “confusing, not just to consumers, but to businesses that do business in multiple counties,” said Cailey Locklair, the association’s president.
The Retailers Association also hoped to see a “price floor,” or a minimum fee requirement for paper bags that will still be permitted under the law.
The bill, as currently written, doesn’t include a mandatory fee, which Locklair said would encourage customers to bring reusable bags and help businesses recoup some of the cost of paper bags.