At tomorrow’s meeting, the College Park City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed “Better Bag” ordinance in College Park. The ordinance would generally prohibit retailers from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale. It will require that retail establishments charge a fee of at least 10 cents per bag for the provision of paper carryout bags and reusable carryout bags. This is to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags. The city will not be getting any revenue from the bag fees.

Businesses will be allowed to provide plastic bags, free of charge, to package certain bulk items, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items, bakery goods, ice, dry-cleaned clothes, and wrapping items such as meat, fish and flowers.

The ordinance will designate a week every year when businesses will be offering free reusable bags.

According to research, College Park residents use 12.7 million plastic single-use bags per year. Residents typically use these bags for less than 15 minutes while these bags stay in the environment for the rest of their lifetimes.

In addition to the environmental cost, there is also an economical cost. The County spends $125,000 annually to remove plastic bag debris from the sorting equipment.

Certain College Park businesses, such as MoM’s Organic Market, Trader Joe’s, and Lidl, already have partial or total restrictions on using free single-use plastic bags.

If College Park adopts the ordinance, it will join other jurisdictions with similar legislation. The list includes Laurel, Takoma Park, Baltimore, Chester-town, Easton, Westminster, Howard County and Montgomery County.10 states in the U.S., hundreds of cities worldwide and some 127 counties have similar legislation. The City of Hyattsville is also considering bag legislation.

If the Council approves the ordinance, the new law will be effective on September 1, 2023