Baltimore Votes Down Plastic Bag Ban

Grocery stores opposed the bill on the grounds that paper bags cost more, and also create litter.

@text:A proposed law that would have made Baltimore the second U.S. city to ban plastic bags at grocery stores and other retailers failed to pass in a full City Council vote this week.

Introduced as a way to prevent plastic bags from blocking waterways, the measure would have required stores with gross revenue of $500,000 or higher to offer only paper or reusable bags. After approval by the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee, which is chaired by the bill's lead sponsor, City Councilman James B. Kraft, the proposal was defeated by an 11-3 margin when brought before the full council.

Representatives from the state's food industry, including several area grocery stores, were against the law because they said paper bags are more costly, and give rise to their own environmental concerns.

"We are not convinced that product bans are an effective means of controlling litter," said Melvin R. Thompson, v.p. of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, in a letter to council members in which he advised against the bill's passage, and which was quoted in the Baltimore Sun. "In many cases, plastic bag litter will simply be replaced with paper bag litter."

"City residents do not want the plastic bag ban either," Jeremy Diamond, a Baltimore-based grocery consultant, told Progressive Grocer. "The ones I've spoken to find plastic bags more convenient than paper. They understand about the environmental issue, but
their rationale is that they recycle their plastic bags every week along with bottles, cans, etc."

Added Diamond: "Area grocers have been pushing their own nylon bags with logos on the front as an alternative to using plastic grocery bags. The grocers charge for their 'signature' bags, and it has not caught on as expected."

Last year San Francisco became the first U.S. city to pass a partial ban on certain kinds of plastic bags.
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