College Park businesses can no longer provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers starting Sept. 1 after the College Park City Council passed a bill Tuesday.
The Better Bag Bill, which passed unanimously, bans single-use plastic bags and requires at least a 10-cent fee for paper and reusable carryout bags.
The 10-cent fee is intended to encourage buyers to bring their own reusable bags and to relieve businesses of the costs of more expensive paper and reusable bags, according to the Committee for a Better Environment.
College Park residents use about 12.7 million plastic carryout bags annually, according to the Committee for a Better Environment, which proposed the bill to the council in November 2022 after working with the Maryland Sierra Club.
“Although each bag is used for an average of only 15 minutes, those bags are in our environment for centuries,” said Alexa Bely, a Committee for a Better Environment member and a University of Maryland biology professor. “We can do better, and this better bag initiative is an excellent path to a cleaner and healthier College Park.”
Brendan Mahoney, a representative from the Restaurant Association of Maryland, asked the council for an exception for restaurants and said a plastic bag ban would bring inconveniences, such as food cross-contamination caused by reusable bags.
The council did not grant the exception, and council members said they were not persuaded that restaurants would be inconvenienced.
The city’s economic development manager found no opposition to the ordinance after contacting 150 city businesses, District 2 council member Llatetra Brown Esters said.
The ban does not include plastic bags used to package bulk items or wrap fresh meat, flowers or dry-cleaned clothes.
District 4 council member Maria Mackie said she supports the plan because the city needs to be mindful and protect the Anacostia Watershed from plastic pollution.
“I think that we, as a city, need to be a little inconvenienced sometimes and learn to take our bags with us,” Mackie said.