City panel OKs partial ban on plastic bags

by admin on March 21, 2010

Merchants would have to encourage recycling, keep a tally

By Timothy B. WheelerMarch 17, 2010

After years of debating whether to ban disposable plastic store bags or slap a fee on them, the Baltimore City Council appears poised now to try fighting the city’s litter problem with half a ban.

Under a bill endorsed by a council committee Tuesday, food sellers would be given a choice of offering only paper bags or encouraging their customers to cut back on or recycle the plastic ones.

James B. Kraft, chairman of the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations panel, said the measure should overcome objections store owners have to an outright bag ban or fee, which the panel had been considering since 2008. He also said he believes he has enough votes on the 14-member council to get it passed.

Kraft said the bill, worked out in talks the past two weeks among merchants, bag manufacturers and environmental activists, represents a middle ground in the “bag wars” that have raged in Maryland and across the country over how to get the ubiquitous, flimsy plastic sacks out of the waste stream, out of trees and out of the water.

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