Maryland Bill Could Add Ten Cent Fee to Bags - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

UPDATED: Maryland Bill Could Add Ten Cent Fee to Bags

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.-  Just about everything comes in a plastic or paper bag these days.  Groceries, lunch, even knick-knacks.  Maryland Senate Bill 57 would put a price tag on that: 10 cents per bag.  Five cents of that would go to the store owner, the other five to the comptroller's office for administrative costs.  What remains after that would go to the counties for community greening, storm water control, or any other number of projects to clean up the bay.

The Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy says the purpose of the bill is not just to aid in paying for cleanup projects, but mainly to eliminate the use of one-use bags.  They say ultimately, plastic or paper bags would not be as available as they are now.  Instead, shoppers would use reusable bags to do their shopping.  The ten cent fee, which is partially given to store owners, is a way to ensure that they can still buy bags for customers that want them.  The riverkeepers say customers are already paying for the bags, that cost is simply built into the cost of your purchases already.

But some don't like the idea.

"If they don't want a bag, then they should come up with incentives, the group that's interested in this, they should come up with incentives for small businesses to not use plastic bags if they don't want them used," said Ricky Travers, owner of Simmons Center Market on Race Street in Cambridge. 

There are some exceptions to rule.  Actually quite a few exceptions.  For example, no fee should be charged on bags used for bulk items, food, flowers, medicine, or garbage bags.  Businesses like Katie Mae's Country Shoppe, on Poplar Street in Cambridge, would have to charge for some items, and not for others.

"When you hear of something like 'Oh, you're going to have to charge on top of something else.' It steers people away from here, and again, we're trying to keep people here." said Katie Smith.

Not all oppose the idea.  At the Sunnyside Shop, also on Poplar Street, Heidi Griebel sells many recycled items.  Disposable bags, she says, are terrible for the environment.

"A lot of them end up in the gutter and in the bay.  We've heard about turtles swallowing them up.  There are other places that have already curbed usage through taxation and other ways.  I think it's time," said Griebel.

Time to say goodbye to the disposable bag, hello to the reusable one, or the 10 cent fee if the Senate bill is passed.

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