Bag Ban Begins, Anne Arundel Shoppers React To New Law

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Anne Arundel County’s plastic bag ban started Jan. 1, 2024. Plastic bags, paper bags and reusable bags are pictured above. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD - The plastic bag ban took effect on New Year's Day in Anne Arundel County. Shoppers must now bring their own bags or use the store's paper bags, which will start costing at least 10 cents on Feb. 1.

The law does not yet apply to the City of Annapolis, which will soon consider its own version of the bag ban.

Shoppers Share Thoughts

Some shoppers are excited to go green and ditch the plastic. Others are frustrated with the inconvenience and added fees.

"It's alright. I like it," shopper Sheila Green told WBAL at Geresbeck's Food Market in Glen Burnie.

Though WBAL found mostly supporters, some don't appreciate the additional charge for paper bags.

"That's a straight-up ripoff to me. You know groceries are already too high. Now you have to buy a bag to put your stuff in? Now that's crazy," shopper Virginia Crawford told WBAL.

Politicians Weigh In

County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) was all for the bag ban, saying it will protect the environment.

"Our residents take pride in the beauty and natural resources of the land and water where we live," Pittman said in a press release last month. "This bag ban is a collective act that will make this place both cleaner and healthier for our residents and our wildlife."

County Council Member Lisa Rodvien (D-District 6) wrote the law, entitled the "Bring Your Own Bag Plastic Reduction Act (Bill 19-23)."

Rodvien, an Annapolis resident, prefers not to call the legislation a "bag ban."

"We actually were trying to get folks to call it the ‘bring your own bag bill’ to focus on the behavioral changes," Rodvien told The Baltimore Banner. "The focus really is on the behavior change, getting people in the habit of bringing their own bags. … Bag ban rolls off the tongue much easier. So, you know, no judgment if that’s what folks call it."

The bag ban passed the County Council last June by a 6 to 1 vote, The Capital reported. Shannon Leadbetter (R-District 7), the Crofton resident representing South County, was the only one to vote against the measure.

"I don’t know that a government mandate, a requirement, the way this is structured, is the right answer," Leadbetter said last June, according to The Capital.

The Capital and The Banner both said that the Annapolis City Council is working on its version of the bag ban.

"We introduced it twice but withdrew due to COVID," Alderman Rob Savidge (D-Ward 7) wrote to The Banner. "[Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier (D-Ward5)] and I are finishing up our own, largely based on county’s, but ironing out a few differences first."

The Banner said Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County have similar bag restrictions. Prince George's County also started a plastic bag ban this New Year.

Bag Ban Specifics

Stores can give shoppers reusable and paper bags for free until Feb. 1. After that, retailers must charge at least 10 cents per bag. The businesses keep that fee to cover the cost of the bags.

Establishments can give out free reusable bags annually from April 22 to April 30 for Earth Day. They can also hand out free reusable bags for any 10-day period during a given month established by the retailer.

Restaurants can provide paper carryout bags for free. Pharmacies can still give free paper bags for prescriptions. School food service facilities are also exempt.

Plastic bags are still allowed for:

  • Bakery goods or unwrapped prepared foods
  • Raw meat or seafood
  • Bulk items, including fruits, nuts, grains
  • Other food items that can only be transported in a plastic bag (i.e. ice)
  • Fresh flowers, potted plants, or fresh herbs
  • Hanging garments or dry-cleaned clothes
  • Live fish, insects, mollusks, or crustaceans
  • Cigar or loose tobacco
  • Newspapers

More information is posted at aacounty.org/bring-your-own-bag.

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