Baltimore may soon have a tax on plastic bags, if city council members have their way.
City Councilmen Brandon M. Scott and Robert W. Curran introduced a bill June 10 proposing a 10 cent bag tax on all plastic shopping bags.
“The purpose of the bill is to reduce the amount of plastic and paper bags littering the city’s waterways at the Inner Harbor and Herring Run Park,” said Scott.
Since Washington, D.C. initiated the plastic bag tax, Scott said environmentalists have shown a dramatic increase in the quality of the Anacostia River, which for years was littered with plastic bags and other debris.
According to officials, Washington, D.C.’s plastic bag tax has generated nearly $5 million towards the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund from January 2010 to July 2012.
Scott said funds raised from the Baltimore tax would likewise support parks and green spaces in the city.
“By having the funds go towards parks and green spaces we're going to be giving funding to help improve what we are trying to save in the first place,” said Scott.
Critics expressed concern that lower-income residents may not be able to afford to pay for plastic bags, but Scott said many discount food markets and wholesale markets already charge for plastic bags.
“It’s not like city residents aren't already accustomed to paying for plastic bags,” said Scott. “Many wholesale stores like your BJ's and Sam's Club and discount food stores like ALDI already charge a fee for bags.”
Under the current proposal, two cents of the tax revenue will be given back to the store the bag was purchased from.
Scott said the exact amount of revenue the tax would generate per year has not been determined, but expected it would be in the thousands of dollars.