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It’s the Law, Bring a Bag When You Shop

January 4, 2012 Green Blog 1 Comment

Video: Courtesy of Montgomery County

January 4, 2012

Gaithersburg, Md

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Montgomery County shoppers, don’t forget that you will have to pay five cents per plastic bag you use at the stores starting January 1st, unless you bring your own reusable bag.  Use your own bags and you will reduce the circulation of plastic bags, thus lessening the amount of  bags that find their way into streams, rivers, and the oceans.

Estimates vary widely as to how many plastic bags are made per year, anywhere between a billion to a trillion, but the truth is that the vast majority of these bags are not biodegradable and can take up 500 to 1,000 years to decompose into tiny bits of plastic. There are two major patches of floating plastic and debris out in the oceans, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Atlantic Garbage Patch. They are not going away.

Montgomery County, Md, is one of a few counties in the United States that has passed this law that is designed  to improve the environment by cutting the use of plastic bags.  Washington D.C. enacted the same law January 1, 2010 and has reduced plastic bag litter be an estimated 65%, according to Montgomery County.

Though there are other cities and counties in the United States as well that have enacted laws to reduce the use of plastic bags, this legislation is not without its critics.  Two websites, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and Plasticbaglaws.org provide lists of cities, counties and various states that have enacted similar plastic bag laws or have considered a law but did not enact it.

For example, in Montgomery Counties’ own debate before enacting the bag law, the  American Chemistry Council, a group representing plastic bag manufacturers, were against the new law.

ACC argued that the tax would cause higher grocery costs for  County residents as they will have to pay the five cents per bag used, that most reusable bags were made in China, and that up to 100 jobs in Maryland could be lost that are tied to reusing plastic bags and making them into other products. They also cited a study that showed reusable bags could cause cross contamination issues and that consumer education was needed to keep reusable bags sanitary.

Shoppers will still get perishable items, prescription drugs, or carry out food from restaurants in paper bags as these items are exempt from the new law.

So take your cloth, recycled plastic, nylon bags when you shop, and know you are doing your part to waste less and improve the quality of your water sources by reducing the number of plastic bags out there.




Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Let’s hope that this makes a real difference in how much platic gets in our local streams! If not familiar with the amount of trash that does get thrown from cars or pedestrians, take a look at photos from the Muddy Branch Alliance Adopt-a-Road pickup. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=pu.134042406666556&type=1

    Paul Hlavinka

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