The world is facing a plastic pollution crisis! Every year, an estimated 5 million to 13 million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans from land-based sources. Plastic bags are among the top five plastic products collected in beach cleanups. They have a 15-minute “working life” but last for centuries or more in the environment. On our present course, there will be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the oceans by 2050.
Plastic bags are a major culprit. At major grocery chains in Maryland that provide carryout bags, 75%-88% of shopper use single-use bags, nearly all of them plastic. Littered plastic bags blow or wash into waterways and the oceans, where they eventually break into small pieces. They’re ingested by marine life, injuring or killing fish, seabirds, and marine animals.
This bill would ban single-use plastic bags, and require retailers to charge 10 cents for other carryout bags, a financial incentive to use a reusable bag or no bag at all. Similar legislation in San Jose, California raised reusable bag use from 3% to 46%, and shopping without a carryout bag from 13% to 43%. Plastic bags in waterways declined by 76%. The bill would also create a Single-Use Products Workgroup to recommend further actions to reduce plastic and single-use container waste in Maryland.
Seven states and nearly 500 localities in the US have enacted bag laws. It’s time for Maryland to ban single-use plastic bags and incentivize reusable bags statewide!
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